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J Miss State Med Assoc. 2003 Dec;44(12):383-7.

The employment-related breastfeeding decisions of physician mothers.

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Department of Family Medicine, University of Mississippi Medical Center, 2500 North State Street, Jackson, MS 39216-4505, USA.


One hundred and forty-six physician mothers responded to a survey of their personal decisions regarding employment and breastfeeding. The mean duration of breastfeeding was 18.8 weeks with a range of 1 week to 128 weeks. The three major factors contributed to the physician mother' decisions to completely wean their children were return to work (45%), diminishing milk supply (31%), and lack of time to pump (18%). Return to part-time work was positively associated with greater duration of maternity leave and breastfeeding. The relationship between breastfeeding and weeks of maternity leave was positive for first- and second-born children. It was not significant for subsequent children. Upon returning to work, space and time for milk expression were obstacles for the majority of the physician mothers. Without time, space, and workplace support, mothers who attempt to combine full time employment and breastfeeding are likely to delay or skip milk expression. This may cause them to experience breastfeeding problems, resulting in premature weaning. Flexible employment arrangements may increase duration among physician mothers and provide an atmosphere of greater acceptance. Protected time and a space for milk expression could contribute to greater frequency of pumping and fewer problems associated with incomplete emptying of the breast.

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