Co-Workers Play a Major Role in Moms' Decision to Breastfeed

Breastfeeding has been in the news lately for the most unlikely reason: The president of the United States has picked a fight about formula feeding with the United Nations, to the point of threatening to withdraw financial and military support from nations that promote breastfeeding over formula feeding.

Parents of all ages know that everyone has an opinion about how to feed children. Researchers at Michigan State University have come to a surprising conclusion about who winds up having the most influence over whether new parents breastfeed. Their study shows that it's not friends or family but co-workers who ultimately push new parents to continue or give up breastfeeding.

In a survey of 500 working mothers, more than half who chose to breastfeed after returning to work abandoned the practice within one to six months. The ones who continued said that encouragement and support from colleagues played a huge role in their decision. "In the workplace, a breastfeeding woman's dependence on this is higher because she 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," said co-author Joanne Goldbort in a press release.

We already know that working moms are happiest at work when they've got their colleagues on their side. New parenthood is a fraught and expensive time. Ultimately, the decision is theirs, but however an office can help them make that decision freely is definitely the best way to go.