The researchers found that 74.2% of women who had at least 13 weeks of complete maternity leave started their babies on breast milk, compared to 64.6% of those whose maternity leave was between 1 to 6 weeks.
The women with longer maternity leave had the highest proportion of babies still being breastfed when they were three months old, the authors added, while those who only had 1 to 6 weeks off work had the lowest proportions.
Women are entitled to 12 weeks unpaid leave after giving birth, according to the US Family Leave and Medical Act. However, a huge number of mothers are affected by businesses that are exempt from this legislation. Any business with fewer than 50 employees only has to offer this benefit to females who worked 1,250 hours or more over the last twelve months. California, New York, Rhode Island and New Jersey are the only US states that offer more than the federal law does.
Compare this to Sweden, where a mother gets 16 months maternity leave at 80% pay. Japan offers 14 weeks at 66% pay, while Canadian law insists on 17 weeks at 55% of the worker's salary. American law does not require the employer to pay anything.
Moms Rising has been advocating for paid family leave and to strenghthen unpaid family leave for some time. Check out their page on family leave.