Feature Archive

A Woman's Work Is Never Done

Breastfeeding moms get help from an unusual source.

WebMD Feature

April 24, 2000 (New York) -- Along the corridor in the offices of National Geographic Television in Washington D.C., doors would slam shut every day at about noon and three o'clock as up to ten executive moms pumped breast milk in their respective offices. "There was a succession of births in the office," says Jenny Apostol, a supervisory producer at the company, "so we moms formed a kind of ad hoc alliance among ourselves, talking about problems, supporting each other, keeping our stored milk in the office fridge."

This kind of scenario is exactly what the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is hoping for. The organization released a recommendation in 1997 advising mothers to breastfeed their infants for the first 12 months of life. It has been found that breastfed babies have a lower incidence of ear infections, diarrhea, and lower respiratory and other infections.

But working moms banding together for pumping purposes is far from the norm. A recent study of middle-class mothers, published in the July 1998 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, shows that the usual duration of breastfeeding is significantly shorter for working mothers: 16 weeks on average compared with 25 weeks for mothers not working outside the home.

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