Gap between maternity policies revealed

Gap between maternity policies revealed
Credit: limaoscarjuliet

Mothers who exclusively breastfeed their child spend 6.6 hours a week longer milk feeding than mothers who partially breastfeed or formula feed, which has important implications for health policies and programs, including paid parental leave.

"It is rarely acknowledged that exclusive breastfeeding is very time intensive," says Dr Julie Smith from the Australian Centre for Economic Research on Health at ANU, who notes recommend six months of exclusive breastfeeding, yet the current Government's Paid Parental Leave scheme is for a maximum of 18 weeks.

"Time is a big factor in how choose to feed their babies. Exclusive breastfeeding may add to the time spent feeding because you need to feed more often and it's harder to share the feeding with someone else."

"This conflict in and paid parental leave needs to be rectified."

Smith and co-author Robert Forrester studied the time 139 Australian mothers took to feed their six month old child. The mothers tracked how long they spent preparing feeds, feeding solids and breastfeeding over a week using electronic time tracking devices.

"Time demands on exclusively breastfeeding mothers are particularly high. Exclusively spent on average, over 18 hours a week breastfeeding—6.6 hours longer than mothers who have introduced solids or formula."

"Mothers who don't breastfeed exclusively spent almost four hours a week preparing and feeding solid foods or formula, in addition to time they spent breastfeeding."

The time intensive nature of exclusive breastfeeding may contribute to premature weaning for women who are time-stressed or get little assistance in child rearing.

"We need to help mothers to meet for breastfeeding by promoting time saving strategies for new mothers, such as additional help with and other childcare, lactation breaks in the workplace, and on-site childcare," says Smith.

"Extending paid parental leave to six months may also help employed mothers to breastfeed exclusively for six months."

Related Stories

Personality may affect a new mother's decision to breastfeed

date Aug 06, 2013

A new analysis has found that mothers who are more extroverted and less anxious are more likely to breastfeed and to continue to breastfeed than mothers who are introverted or anxious. Published early online in the Journal of ...

CDC: Breastfeeding rates increasing in US

date Aug 01, 2013

(HealthDay)—More than three-quarters of infants begin breastfeeding, and rates at six and 12 months have increased since 2000, according to a report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and ...

Recommended for you

Soldiers cite 'Medic!' as a top hearing priority

date 1 hour ago

'Medic!', 'Hold fire!' and grid references are amongst the highest priorities for soldiers to be able to hear while on duty, according to new research from the University of Southampton.

New measures identified for newborn care in Uganda

date 2 hours ago

In Uganda, child mortality rates are improving, but progress is slower for deaths occurring in the first four weeks of life, or the newborn period, and for stillbirths. But recent evidence from local researchers ...

Should men cut back on their soy intake?

date 5 hours ago

Recently, a friend called my husband to inquire about the risks for men in consuming too much soy milk. He had read an article that described how one individual's plight led him down the path of breast enlargement, and was ...

Probing Question: What is umami?

date 5 hours ago

The next time you're at a dinner party and want to spice up the conversation, you might compliment the hosts on their umami-rich appetizers. Then wait a moment until someone invariably asks, "What's umami?"

Will the Affordable Care Act eliminate health disparities?

date 7 hours ago

Massachusetts' health reform may be a crystal ball for researchers and policymakers in forecasting the potential impact of the Affordable Care Act. Many see the ACA as the backbone of efforts toward closing the nation's health ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.