More than half of nursing mothers do not have adequate break time and a private area to breast pump at work, a new study found.
Closeup of mother in suit with baby bottle
Credit: Piotr Marcinski/Shutterstock

Any breastfeeding mother, past or present, knows that pumping breast milk is no picnic. And pumping at work is an even greater struggle.

New research from the University of Minnesota sheds light on just how tough it is today for nursing moms to pump in the workplace.

The study, published in Women's Health Issues, analyzed reports from 2,400 women between the ages of 18 and 45 in the United States.

Under the Affordable Care Act, which was passed in 2010, all establishments with more than 50 employees are required to provide break time and a space for breastfeeding mothers to pump. Despite this law, the study found that only 40 percent of participants had an adequate amount of time and space to express their breastmilk.

The study also noted that women who do have access to reasonable break time and private space are more than twice as likely to continue exclusively breastfeeding their infant for at least six months, which is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), compared to women who do not have the same access.

"The benefits of breastfeeding are well documented. Unfortunately, many mothers who wish to continue breastfeeding when they return to work encounter logistical challenges," noted lead author Katy Kozhimannil, Ph.D., in the study's press release.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn.