Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Working Full Time Does Not Deter Breast-Feeding

July 31, 1997
University Of Florida
Women who return to the workplace after having babies are just as likely to breast-feed as their counterparts who stay home.

Related Articles


July 31, 1997 Writer: Cathy Keen Source: Teresa Smith (910) 777-3957

GAINESVILLE --- Women who return to the workplace after having babies are just as likely to breast-feed as their counterparts who stay home, a new University of Florida study finds.

"Women who make it a priority to pursue careers in addition to motherhood are often well-educated, and we know that breast-feeding rates go up with higher education levels," said Teresa Smith, who did the research for her doctoral dissertation in sociology at UF.

Smith asked 150 mothers who had just given birth at Forsyth Memorial Hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C., whether they planned to breast-feed or bottle-feed their infants. Sixty- one percent of the women expecting to work full time in the next few months intended to breast-feed, compared with 50 percent of those returning part time and 54 percent of those staying home.

Breast-feeding rates were even higher for women who were the family's primary breadwinner or who shared this role with their husbands or partners. Seventy-eight percent of these mothers breast-fed, the study found.

"Women with careers that allow them to be the primary earners in a household are probably especially well-educated and likely to have careers as opposed to jobs," she said.

World Breast-Feeding Week is Aug. 1-7.

Until now, little has been known how labor force participation affects breast-feeding, Smith said.

"The lack of studies is surprising, considering that the recent dramatic increase in the number of mothers of small children in the work force has coincided with a decline in breast-feeding rates," she said.

From a post-World War II low of less than 20 percent, the proportion of breast-feeding women in the United States rose dramatically between 1960 and the mid ‘80s to 60 percent of all mothers being discharged from the hospital, Smith said. However, by 1989, the share had dropped to 52 percent, she said.

The UF study found women most likely to breast-feed were white, older, better educated and married or living with a partner. Women whose mothers supported breast-feeding chose that method 97 percent of the time, and women whose husbands or partners approved chose breast-feeding 84 percent of the time, Smith said.

"Interestingly, living with a partner made a big difference," she said. "Women who were married or living with a man were much more likely to breast-feed than single women, even if the single woman had a partner. In fact, women who lived with their partners were more than twice as likely to breast-feed as those not living with a partner.

Three-quarters of the women who selected breast-feeding gave their baby's health as the primary reason, while bottle-feeding mothers citied the convenience, Smith said.

"With the benefits of breast-feeding so well-known, I wondered why women would choose a method that is second-best," she said. "I couldn't help but question whether our cultural views of the breast as primarily a sexual organ to fulfill men's pleasure are a factor."

Women who have been strongly socialized to value breast-feeding, particularly if they were breast-fed themselves, would probably be less likely to see the breast as exclusively male territory and would be less likely to seek male permission to use their breasts to nourish a child, she said.

Research has shown that human milk contains the best mix of proteins, lipids and other nutrients for developing infants, Smith said. Studies find that breast-fed infants have lower mortality rates, fewer ear infections and allergies and less gastro-intestinal illness than bottle-fed babies, she said.

Smith would like to see breast-feeding promoted in public education campaigns, much like those for childhood immunizations and use of child safety seats in cars. But, she said, prospective parents interested in breast-feeding should learn about its value well before the mother gives birth. In the UF study, more than one-third of the mothers who chose breast-feeding made the decision before they became pregnant.


Color or black & white photo available with this story. For information, please call News & Public Affairs photography at (352) 392-9092.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Florida. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Cite This Page:

University Of Florida. "Working Full Time Does Not Deter Breast-Feeding." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 1997. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/07/970730080621.htm>.
University Of Florida. (1997, July 31). Working Full Time Does Not Deter Breast-Feeding. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/07/970730080621.htm
University Of Florida. "Working Full Time Does Not Deter Breast-Feeding." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/07/970730080621.htm (accessed March 29, 2015).

Share This

More From ScienceDaily

More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

AFP (Mar. 28, 2015) Sierra Leone imposed a three-day nationwide lockdown Friday for the second time in six months in a bid to prevent a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. Duration: 01:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
These Popular Antibiotics Can Cause Permanent Nerve Damage

These Popular Antibiotics Can Cause Permanent Nerve Damage

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) A popular class of antibiotic can leave patients in severe pain and even result in permanent nerve damage. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WH Plan to Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Germs

WH Plan to Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Germs

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) The White House on Friday announced a five-year plan to fight the threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria amid fears that once-treatable germs could become deadly. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
House Ready to Pass Medicare Doc Bill

House Ready to Pass Medicare Doc Bill

AP (Mar. 26, 2015) In rare bipartisan harmony, congressional leaders pushed a $214 billion bill permanently blocking physician Medicare cuts toward House passage Thursday, moving lawmakers closer to resolving a problem that has plagued them for years. (March 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.


Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News


Free Subscriptions

Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile

Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?

Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins