Work and breastfeeding – are they compatible?

In the light of the recently published ACAS Guidance on Accommodating breastfeeding in the Workplace, this is what I wrote in March 2013. The ACAS guidance is well written and contains useful examples on a topic that cause confusion :
http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/2/i/Acas-guide-on-accommodating-breastfeeding-in-the-workplace.pdf

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The NHS Infant Feeding Survey (carried out every 5 years) consistently shows that the majority of women stop breastfeeding by the time their child is 6 months old (just 1% of women are still breastfeeding exclusively by this time, although 34% are partially breastfeeding).  Of those who continue beyond 6 months, this will naturally decrease in frequency as many babies will have replaced at least some milk feeds with solid food by around 9 months.

As the default period of maternity leave is 12 months (of which 9 attract statutory maternity pay), it will be relatively rare to encounter a mother who is still fully breastfeeding when she returns to work.  Women who choose or are compelled for financial reasons to return to work after just a few months are those most likely to be doing so.

How can they possibly continue? There may be a handful of women whose…

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