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WHAT IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST BARRIERS TO BREASTFEEDING?

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Currently, women working both formally and informally in Mexico are 20% less likely to breastfeed than women who are unemployed. This despite supportive national legislation designed to enable and protect breastfeeding mothers when they return to work.

To discover exactly which contextual factors and underlying mechanisms make a workplace breastfeeding friendly, a team of researchers studied breastfeeding policies from 14 workplaces, in four cities, across four states in Mexico.

These emerged as the top three most effective factors:

1. Work-schedule flexibility
2. Provision of lactation services (i.e., breastfeeding counseling) other than a lactation room
3. Women’s previous experience with breastfeeding- and family-friendly environments in the workplace

See their full findings, just published in a special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health called ‘Protecting, Supporting and Promoting Appropriate Breastfeeding in the 21st Century’ (Implementation of Breastfeeding Policies at Workplace in Mexico: Analysis of Context Using a Realist Approach).

In this first-of-its kind qualitative analysis in Mexico, the researchers also identified five underlying mechanisms that can either enable or impede a breastfeeding friendly workplace. They are: awareness of maternity protection legislation, the use of breastfeeding interventions in the workplace, culture, supervisor/co-worker support and a breastfeeding friendly-physical space.

The researchers noted that in addition to contributing to better health outcomes for children and mothers, breastfeeding-friendly policies and strategies ‘… are also beneficial for companies, as they have been reported to reduce absenteeism and healthcare costs, and improve employee retention, productivity, loyalty, and morale’ and are ‘ … important for promoting gender equality both in the labour market and in the domestic sphere.’

FLRF is a proud sponsor of this research, along with UNICEF Mexico.  

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