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Length of new mothers' breast-feeding linked to time off and FMLA

A new study demonstrates the longer new mothers stay home with their newborns, the more likely the mothers will breast-feed their babies. The researchers who conducted the study found that new mothers who were at home for three months or longer were twice as likely to breast-feed their newborns beyond the three month mark.

The Family and Medical Leave Act is a good basis that allows some women to take a sufficient period of time off from work to be with their newborn, but the author of study says women would be helped further if the Family and Medical Leave Act were extended so that more women would have job security to breast-feed.

The best way to improve the lot of new mothers in the United States is to grant paid maternity leave to all women according to Dr. Chinelo Ogbuanu, the author of the study. Many women do not take leave because they do not get paid and others do not take leave because the Family and Medical Leave Act does not apply to them.

The Family and Medical Leave Act requires employers to offer 12 weeks of unpaid leave to new mothers; however, the law only applies to employers with 50 or more employees. In addition, women have to have been in their position for one year or more and worked at least 1,250 hours within 12 months in order to take leave time under the Act.

Only five states offer additional time that goes beyond the federal law. In comparison, many countries offer paid leave time for new mothers. Research has shown that the length of maternity leave helps determine whether women decide to breast-feed their newborn.

Source: HealthDay, "Longer maternity leave ups breast-feeding rates," Serena Gordon, 5/30/11

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