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Breast way to get back to work earlier
MOTHERS who are offered facilities to breastfeed or express milk in the office return to work earlier after having a child.
These are the findings of a report by the Institute for Social and Economic Research at Essex University.
The study of about 3,000 mothers found those who had breastfeeding facilities at work were eight per cent more likely to have returned to their job before their child was six months old.
The report also looked at whether other factors, such as extended breaks, flexi-time and part time work, would be an incentive to return to work.
However, the outcome showed that the ability to carry on breastfeeding was of paramount importance when women considered going back to work.
Dr Emilia Del Bono, co-author of the report, said: “We wanted to conduct the study from the point of view of employers to understand whether there are incentives for them to provide women with facilities to breastfeed or express milk.
“A lot of research has been done into the benefits to women and babies for breastfeeding, but we wanted to see whether there are sufficient reasons for employers to change the working environment even in the absence of legislation.”
The report showed the effect was only seen among better educated women.
Dr Del Bono said: “Lower educated mothers have shorter maternity leave periods due to income constraints, so the availability of breastfeeding facilities has little impact on their decision to return to work.
“More educated mothers, by contrast, have more choice in relation to the duration of their maternity leave and are also more likely to breastfeed longer, so the availability of breastfeeding facilities is more important in this group.”
Dr Del Bono, believes that in the future,workplaces will need to be more proactive in addressing the problems working mothers face.
She says: “In the future the issues of working mothers will be discussed instead of being swept under the carpet.
“It might mean mothers breastfeeding at work or keeping expressed milk in the fridge – it may be a culture shock, but necessary for change to happen.
“One day, employers might even add details of breastfeeding facilities in job advertisements.
“Many universities already do something similar with creche facilities on site.”