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SATURDAY, July 21, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- The support of co-workers is crucial for new mothers who want to continue breast-feeding after returning to work, a new study finds.
Study author Joanne Goldbort, an assistant professor at Michigan State University College of Nursing, said co-worker support is critical for several reasons.
In the workplace, a breast-feeding woman "has to work collegially with co-workers, gain their support to assist with the times she's away from her desk, and ultimately try to lessen the 'you get a break and I don't' stigma," Goldbort said in a university news release.
"If women know that co-workers and supervisors will support them in their breast-feeding efforts, it can make a big difference," Goldbort added. "It really takes a village to breast-feed a baby."
The study included more than 330 new mothers who continued breast-feeding after going back to their jobs. Of those, more than half stopped breast-feeding within six months.
The study didn't examine why they stopped breast-feeding, but did ask the women about co-worker support.
Overall, it appeared that simply returning to work was a major factor in a woman's decision to stop breast-feeding, but co-worker support was important for those who continued to nurse their babies.
The study also found that more than one-quarter of mothers who tried to continue breast-feeding after returning to work did so because their workplace offered a supportive environment, such as providing a place to pump breast milk.
About 15 percent said they kept breast-feeding because they had co-workers or supervisors who encouraged them to do so, according to the report.
The findings suggest that co-worker support is equal to or even more important than support from family and close friends.
The results were published recently in Health Communication.
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: Michigan State University, news release, July 11, 2018