Shared Parental Leave Hitting UK Breastfeeding Rates
Category: York St John University
Dr Ernestine Gheyoh Ndzi, Subject Director for Law, York St John University has conducted a study into how the introduction of shared parental leave has impacted on breastfeeding. The research publishes as the charity The Breastfeeding Network launch their Making It Work campaign aimed at empowering working parents.
Ernestine says: “Breastfeeding my first daughter was so hard at the beginning because I was very ill after giving birth, but the support my husband gave me helped me to carry on. I recognise the importance of breastfeeding and the importance of dads being there to support the mother and bond with the baby. I was super excited when shared parental leave was introduced but questioning how it might impact on breastfeeding. I then set out to investigate.”
“Most of the mothers who took part in the study knew of the benefits of breastfeeding, but nearly half felt that making use of shared parental leave would mean they would have to stop. It is clear that breastfeeding is a contributory factor to the low uptake of shared parental leave and shared parental leave is also contributing to the low rate of breastfeeding in the UK.”
95% of the mothers agreed that breastfeeding was the preferred choice for young babies and were aware of the benefits
43.6% of the mothers felt they would have to stop breastfeeding if they took shared parental leave.
24.9% of the mothers took shared parental leave
57.4% of the mothers were happy to express breastmilk at work
42.6% of the mothers said they were not happy to express
3% of the mothers said they were provided with the necessary resources to support breastfeeding at work
34% of the mothers said they were supported in the workplace to breastfeed
48.9% of the mothers were not provided with any resources at work to encourage breastfeeding
The study found that most employers are not supporting breastfeeding mothers at work and consequently, some mothers stop breastfeeding after returning to work. Mothers who are not happy to express breastmilk will not take shared parental leave. Mothers who are happy to express breastmilk at work would take shared parental leave if the employer is supportive of breastfeeding at work.
Charlotte is an Operations Manager who works in an office. She returned to work full time when her baby was 8 weeks old. Charlotte says having a supportive employer has really helped her: “It has worked out as well as could be expected. My baby is now 7.5 months old and we’re still breastfeeding. I’m fortunate enough that my employer has accommodated me with a really convenient space in which to express which is helping to keep up my supply.”
“Having an accommodating employer made so much difference to my experience. Also I was headstrong about how I wanted my return to work. In my head it was the least they could do if I was only taking 8 weeks off work. Expressing several times a day is a challenge but the reward of being able to feed my baby myself when I’m not working is worth it”
The Breastfeeding Network CEO Shereen Fisher believes more support from employers is needed: “We were pleased to work with Ernestine on this important piece of research. We had tried to engage with government on addressing this important issue of managing breastfeeding and supporting shared parental leave but we were hitting a brick wall especially given the lack of national data on infant feeding attitudes and practices since 2010.”
“The Breastfeeding Network supports thousands of families across the UK each year and mothers tell us they struggle to combine breastfeeding and returning to work. This research echoes what we hear from the families we support in that many workplaces are not providing adequate support for breastfeeding mothers. Our ‘Making it Work’ campaign aims to support families wishing to continue their breastfeeding journeys whilst working and to highlight the simple steps employers can take to help breastfeeding mothers in their return to work.”
VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work
environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your
diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email
[email protected] for more information.
Did you know that users who have filled in their profile details are 42 times more likely to get matched with the right employer?
Help us find the best workplace for you by sharing more about yourself.
We will never disclose your information with others.
Support Worker spreads cheer for families this Christmas
Suzanne Cooper - Support Worker
A support worker has stepped in to bring some festive cheer to a family on the lead up to Christmas.
Suzanne Cooper has been supporting a family of five from Cornwall...
WorldSkills UK - Increasing diversity in the pool of young people who are better prepared for success
If we can increase diversity in the pool of young people who are better prepared for success, we can give our employer partners more choice when recruiting, helping to create higher performing workpl...