The Coronavirus Pandemic Has Increased Moms' Commitment to Breastfeeding, Says New Survey

One in three moms plan to talk to their employer about providing better pumping accommodations when it's time to return to work, according to a new survey from Medela and Mamava.

Mother breastfeeding baby in living room
Photo: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images

From the way we look at child care to the way we deal with benefits like paid family leave, COVID-19 pandemic continues to lead to major changes for parents. Now, a new survey from Medela and Mamava—the partners behind New Moms' Healthy Returns, a program aiming to help moms and employers with the postpartum transition back to work—shows that this unprecedented time is reshaping how moms feel about breastfeeding.

"Returning to work after baby has always been a critical transition, and it will certainly look different when factoring in post-COVID health precautions for breastfeeding mothers," said Melissa Gonzales, executive vice president of the Americas, Medela LLC, in a press release. "Now, perhaps more than ever, employers need to understand the nuanced concerns of new moms and establish procedures that will make her comfortable in the workplace."

The companies surveyed nearly 1,400 moms on their thoughts and concerns about breast milk feeding and returning to work in a post-COVID world. Here's what they said.

COVID-19 Is Boosting Commitment to Breastfeeding

More moms are interested in nursing for longer than initially anticipated, according to the survey. More than 40 percent of moms said they're more committed to breastfeeding because of COVID-19, and one in five moms said they expect to breastfeed or pump longer than they initially planned due to the virus. And a quarter of moms say they are breastfeeding or pumping more than they were before the pandemic.

Sascha Mayer, CEO and co-founder of Mamava, hypothesizes that this might be due to breast milk's protective benefits, noting, "Breast milk is associated with broad health benefits for babies and moms, including being an important factor in seeding healthy bacteria that shape and bolster the immune system."

Moms Plan to Speak Up About Problematic Pumping Rooms

Although 53 percent of moms said they're planning on returning to a workplace outside of their home once it reopens, one in two are nervous about their pumping space being sanitary. But plenty of moms are planning on voicing their concern: One in three moms plan to talk to their employer about pumping accommodations in the workplace upon their return. The top three improvements moms said they want for their workplace lactation spaces are:

  • Sanitation supplies available inside and outside the lactation space
  • A clearly published and adhered to cleaning and sanitization process
  • A dedicated space where pumping is the only allowed activity

It's Time for Employers to Step Up

The findings underline the issues raised by parents nationwide well before COVID-19: Plenty of employers can and must do better by breastfeeding people and babies. In addition to the survey, Medela and Mamava published two white papers to urge employers to take action. One covers Lactation Accommodations in the Post-COVID Workplace, while the other is titled Why Supporting Working Moms is Key to Your Bottom Line.

Here's hoping these resources prove helpful in moving the ball forward for breastfeeding people in the workplace.

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