Workplace Accommodations for Breastfeeding Mothers Fall Short, According to New Study in Journal Women’s Health Issues

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WASHINGTON, DC (October 13,  2015)—Fewer than half of breastfeeding mothers who returned to work after giving birth reported having access to time and space to express breastmilk at work, a new study found. This is despite a requirement in the 2010 Affordable Care Act that employers provide break time and private space for breastfeeding mothers. The study, "Access to Workplace Accommodations to Support Breastfeeding after Passage of the Affordable Care Act," has been published online ahead of print and will appear in the January/February issue of the journal Women's Health Issues.

Lead author Katy Kozhimannil, of the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, and colleagues analyzed data from the Listening to Mothers III survey, a national survey of 2,400 women aged 18 to 45 who gave birth in U.S. hospitals in 2011 and 2012. They found that only 59 percent of breastfeeding women who returned to work postpartum had access to adequate break time, and only 45 percent had access to private space other than a bathroom to express breastmilk. Low-income women and single mothers were less likely to have access to either break time or private space to express breastmilk.

The authors found that those mothers who did have access to workplace accommodations were more than twice as likely as those without these accommodations to exclusively breastfeed their babies for six months, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The Affordable Care Act requirement to provide accommodations for breastfeeding mothers applies to all employers, although those with fewer than 50 employees can be exempted if providing such a space is a hardship. The study authors noted that efforts to fully implement and enforce the provisions of the Affordable Care Act would likely benefit low-income families and single mothers, the groups least likely to have access to workplace support for breastfeeding.


About Women’s Health Issues:
Women's Health Issues is the official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health, and the only journal devoted exclusively to women's health care and policy issues. The journal has a particular focus on women's issues in the context of the U.S. health care delivery system and policymaking processes, although it invites submissions addressing women's health care issues in global context if relevant to North American readers. It is a journal for health professionals, social scientists, policymakers, and others concerned with the complex and diverse facets of health care delivery and policy for women. For more information about the journal, please visit