While most people could tell you that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, breasts are also being honored right this minute: The first week of August is World Breastfeeding Week, an international event celebrated by more than 170 countries. While fundraising walks and the omnipresent pink ribbon mark the former, this month we turn our attention to encouraging and supporting breastfeeding as a way to improve infant health globally.
Believe it or not, the United States is the only industrialized country that doesn’t provide workers with legally mandated paid maternity leave. In fact, only 21 percent of private employers offer paid leave. That’s not good news for boosting breastfeeding rates. Some innovative companies, though, have made breastfeeding and adequate leave a priority: Netflix now gives new parents up to one paid year off. Similarly, Google reduced its new mom attrition rate by half when it lengthened maternity leave from 12 to 18 weeks.