Does Returning to Work After Childbirth Affect Breastfeeding Practices?
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This study examines the effect of the timing and intensity of returning to work after childbirth on the probability of initiating breastfeeding and the number of weeks of breastfeeding. Data come from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79). Baseline probit models and family-level fixed effects models indicate that returning to work within 3 months is associated with a reduction in the probability that the mother will initiate breastfeeding by 16–18%. Among those mothers who initiate breastfeeding, returning to work within 3 months is associated with a reduction in the length of breastfeeding of 4–5 weeks. We find less consistent evidence that working at least 35 h per week (among mothers who return to work within 3 months) detracts from breastfeeding. Future research is needed on understanding how employers can design policies and workplaces that support breastfeeding.
Key wordsbreastfeeding maternal employment maternity leave
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