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For very young mothers, ending maternity leave can mean abandoning breastfeeding, according to a survey of new moms. Within two months of going back to work, 51 percent of women ages 18 to 24 stop breastfeeding, compared with only 32 percent of working moms overall. Younger mothers tend to return to work sooner and to have little control over the timing of their breaks. That's because they often work at low-paying retail or service jobs with no privacy for pumping or any means of storing milk.
Nursing moms don't need much, just a "clean, private room with a chair, water and electricity and access to a refrigerator," says Elizabeth Battaglino Cahill, RN, vice president of the National Women's Health Resource Center (NWHRC) in Red Bank, N.J., which sponsored the survey. "If there's no electrical outlet, many pumps run on batteries," she adds. The NWHRC urges new mothers to ask employers for a private room for pumping and a written breastfeeding policy that provides for designated breaks.