Published Date: January 31, 2024

In 2023, an estimated 32,000 women in California will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and approximately 4,680 will die from it. For birthing women, both the initiation of breastfeeding and the duration of it can reduce the risk of breast cancer. Therefore, it is important to understand the barriers to a woman’s decision to start breastfeeding and to continuing its practice for as long as desired.

Through the study of mothers of newborns, maternal care providers (including physicians, nurses, lactation consultants, and doulas), and community advocates for child and maternal health, authors of this policy note gained insights into the barriers to initiating and continuing to breastfeed, particularly among working women.

Based on interviews, as well as on literature and policy reviews, this policy note presents authors’ findings on the perceived benefits of comprehensive family leave, lack of family leave policies as a barrier to breastfeeding, and recommendations for improving family leave policies.

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