Employer-Based Programs to Support Breastfeeding among Working Mothers: A Systematic Review

Lauren M. Dinour, Jacalyn M. Szaro

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Many mothers experience barriers to maintaining a breastfeeding relationship with their infants upon returning to work and, consequently, terminate breastfeeding earlier than recommended or intended. As such, employers are in a unique position to help further increase breastfeeding rates, durations, and exclusivity. Objective: The purpose of this review is to examine the literature regarding employer-based programs, policies, and interventions to support breastfeeding among working mothers. Materials and Methods: A systematic literature search was conducted for peer-reviewed articles published before April 2016. Studies were included if they focused on workplace-based lactation/breastfeeding support programs, policies, or interventions to promote breastfeeding among employees. For inclusion, articles must have measured at least one outcome, such as breastfeeding duration, breastfeeding exclusivity, or employee satisfaction. Results: Twenty-two articles were included, representing 10 different countries and both public- and private-sector employers, including governmental offices, schools, hospitals, manufacturing/industrial companies, and financial settings, among others. Providing a lactation space was the most common employer-based support accommodation studied, followed by breastfeeding breaks and comprehensive lactation support programs. The majority of studies analyzing these three support types found at least one positive breastfeeding and/or nonbreastfeeding outcome. Conclusions: This review suggests that maintaining breastfeeding while working is not only possible but also more likely when employers provide the supports that women need to do so. Although some employers may have more extensive breastfeeding support policies and practices than others, all employers can implement a breastfeeding support program that fits their company's budget and resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-141
Number of pages11
JournalBreastfeeding Medicine
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2017

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Keywords

  • breast milk expression
  • breastfeeding duration
  • breastfeeding initiation
  • employer
  • support
  • workplace

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