Breast-feeding mothers face obstacles at work

Janet Nguyen Oct 14, 2015

Many working environments fail to provide adequate resources for breast-feeding mothers to pump breast milk at their jobs, according to a new study from the University of Minnesota.

The study showed that 60 percent of the more than 1,000 working mothers it surveyed didn’t have enough breaks or “secluded spaces” to pump. Lower-income women are also less likely to have these breaks and spaces, a study from the journal Women’s Health Issues said.

“It’s a shame when the reason that women decide they can’t is because it’s too hard at work,” Katy Kozhimannil, the lead researcher of the study, told the Star Tribune.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a minimum of six months of breast-feeding exclusively, which working women are more likely to do if they have the time and space.

Otherwise, many women end up quitting and feeding formula to their babies, said Emily Whebbe, a Twin Cities lactation consultant, to the Star Tribune.

Minnesota has striven to rectify the issue: Beginning last year, the state Department of Labor and Industry has “to investigate [employees’] complaints within 10 days.” One mother was rehired after initially being fired for taking a pumping break that was 30 minutes long (breaks are supposed to last 15).

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