When I went back to work after I had my son, Leo, I was worried about how my milk supply would hold up, how he would react to being away from me for so long and how I would do at my new job. One concern that never crossed my mind? That I would earn less money because I breastfed my child past six months.
But The Huffington Post reports that, according to a new study out of the US, women who nurse longer take a hit in income. HuffPo notes that the researchers found it was because breastfeeding women worked fewer hours and spent less time at work. And why is that? In the US, women’s jobs aren’t protected while they are on maternity leave like they are in Canada.
So if a woman in the States wants to nurse, she’s most likely got to pump at the office, which means she misses hours of her workday. And in the worst of circumstances those hours are spent in a bathroom. News flash. You want nursing mothers to be more productive? Give them a comfortable space so they can pump more efficiently.
The other option for an American mom is to take a leave of absence, in which case her job isn’t necessarily guaranteed, like it theoretically is in Canada, when she wants to return.
These aren’t issues for most salaried Canadian women. And thank goodness.
Leo was 14 months old when I went back to work, and my supply was well established, so in the end I didn’t need to pump. Plus, he nursed a ton (especially at night), which also helped keep my milk going. He’s still nursing, 19 months later, and I’m so grateful for the system that helped allow that to happen.
Because despite the World Health Organization’s recommendation that babies breastfeed for two years and beyond, and despite the health benefits for both mom and child, women in the US are being penalized for feeding their kids the way they want to, and that’s not right.
Did you nurse after you returned to work? What issues (if any) did you come up against?
Heading back to your job soon and want to keep nursing? Get some great tips on how to keep breastfeeding going when you’re working, from our lactation expert Teresa Pitman.
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