Today 51% of new mothers have no paid leave of any kind, yet the majority of mothers with infants are in the labor force.This means that many moms don't have a realistic choice to breastfeed. Supporting breastfeeding and instituting comprehensive Paid Family Leave policies go hand in hand.
Why do we need paid family leave to support breastfeeding?
A number of studies have shown that maternity leave has a positive impact on how long women breastfeed. This is important because major medical authorities recommend that infants be exclusively breastfed for their first six months because of significant health benefits for both mother and child. But the U.S. is one of only four countries in the world without national paid family leave policies, an omission that sets up our families for failure. Despite the government's Healthy People 2010 breastfeeding goals, only 13.6% of U.S. infants are exclusively breastfeeding and ONLY 43% are breastfeeding at all at six months of age.
Breastfeeding expert Dr. Jerry Calnen argues, "If we are serious about improving our breastfeeding rates, a national paid maternity leave policy will be absolutely necessary."
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