Kin by Medela Survey Results: Working Moms Inspired to Breastfeed More

Medela checked in with 2,500 new breastfeeding moms on a number of issues related to infant feeding. Our survey results show that moms took notice of key events in the news this past year–specifically the infant formula crisis and the new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommending that infants receive breast milk for longer. 

We also asked moms about their plans for breastfeeding and experiences in the workplace. What we learned: moms are inspired to breastfeed their children longer and overwhelmingly need support from their employers to reach those goals. 

Mom holding baby on should, Kin blog

New Parents Change Behaviors Post-Formula Crisis

The infant formula crisis and product recall shook up the domestic marketplace, causing unprecedented shortages and panic buying. As a result, parents have newfound concerns about the safety and availability of formula, which in turn is driving an uptick in interest in breast milk feeding.

Relying solely on breast milk feeding

  • 15% now plan to exclusively feed breast milk as a result of the formula shortage.

Highly motivated to provide breast milk more and minimize formula use

  • One-fifth of respondents say they now want to provide breast milk more.
  • More than a third of moms will eliminate or limit formula usage.

Concerned overall about the security of formula

  • 88% of moms are concerned about the state of infant feeding after the formula crisis.
  • Nearly 30% of moms believe it’s more important not to be overly reliant on formula as a society.

Updated Pediatric Guidelines Motivate Moms to Provide Breast Milk Longer

In 2022, the nation’s leading pediatric group announced a dramatic shift in its guidelines. The AAP’s new recommendations call for exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months of age and then continued breastfeeding for up to 2 years of age and beyond – an increase of 1 year from the prior guidelines. Our survey indicates that moms took that message to heart. But the idea of extended breastfeeding also caused them concern -- especially since 72% of breastfeeding moms are returning to work and will need help meeting those new goals.

Nearly a third of moms will extend breastfeeding goals

  • 31% plan to breastfeed longer now because of the extended guidelines from AAP

More support needed from employers

  • Because of the new guidelines, 36% of moms are more concerned about how to continue feeding breast milk upon their return to work

Parents Face Big Stressors in the Weeks After Giving Birth

Survey findings reveal that new parents continue to struggle through work and financial worries in those fragile weeks after the birth of a baby. Since a large portion of parents do not receive any parental leave benefits, the stress of returning to work is magnified and family-friendly benefits like lactation support are critical to help fill that void.

Zero parental leave benefits

  • Parents returning to work after a baby face an uphill battle, with nearly 40% having no parental leave benefits from their employer.

Returning to work only a month or so postpartum

  • Of those who do have some parental leave, 25% will return to work in less than 8 weeks, and 61% are only partially paid or unpaid for this time.
  • 17% of moms get less than 6 weeks off.

Partial or unpaid leave after birth of baby

  • More than half of respondents said they only receive partially paid parental leave.
  • For 11% of the respondents, their leave is completely unpaid by their employer. 

Moms Are All In On the Hard Work of Breastfeeding & Returning to Work

Despite the difficulties, we found that moms are enthusiastic about continuing to breastfeed when returning to work. Since nearly 100% of moms returning to work told us they plan to continue breastfeeding, they place a high premium on employers who have a clearly defined and well-communicated lactation policy.

Majority will be pumping breast milk when returning

  • 72% have returned to their jobs or plan to after the birth of a baby, and of those breastfeeding, 97% plan to continue after they go back to work.
  • 32% of moms who plan to continue feeding breast milk are concerned about how their employer will respond to their needs.

It’s not a benefit if nobody knows about it

  • 38% were not sure what, if any, breastfeeding support is (or was) offered at their workplace.
  • 7% said their employer did not offer any support for breastfeeding mothers.

Room for improvement for employers

  • Regarding support for breastfeeding, 42% of moms ranked their employer support as only fair to unacceptable.
  • 14% of moms said their employer support was poor to unacceptable.

The Moms’ Thoughts on Breastfeeding in the News survey was conducted by Kin and Medela in October 2022 and included more than 2,500 qualified respondents of new or expectant mothers.