Data to Action Success Story: New Mexico

New Mexico: Supporting Breastfeeding in the Workplace

Problem Overview

PRAMS data from 2003–2004 showed that whereas 83% of New Mexico mothers breastfed or pumped milk for their infants at least once after delivery, by 9 weeks, only 57% were still breastfeeding. Further, at 2 months postpartum, 60% of women not working or in school were still breastfeeding compared with a prevalence of 52% for those women who returned to school or work.

Program Activity Description

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infant and Children (WIC) and New Mexico breastfeeding taskforce partners used the 2003–2004 PRAMS data to educate legislators about the importance of employer support for breastfeeding. In 2007, a bill was introduced to amend NMSA 1978 requiring New Mexico employers to allow flexible break times for nursing mothers and to provide a physical private location, which was not a bathroom, for pumping. The New Mexico Department of Health bill analysis indicated that employed mothers are less likely than nonworking mothers to start breastfeeding or to continue nursing their infants. Among working mothers, those who were employed by companies with flexible breastfeeding policies were more likely to breastfeed for at least 9 weeks compared with women without such support.

Program Activity Outcomes

The amended bill was passed and signed into effect in March 2007. In 2010, a bill was introduced to support pumping and breastfeeding in education facilities and schools. In addition to the successful bill passage in 2007, the New Mexico WIC program was awarded a $500,000 grant to implement peer counseling programs for breastfeeding mothers. The peer counseling program is designed to train breastfeeding mothers on ways to support other WIC mothers who want to breastfeed their infant using, in part, the USDA Grow and Glow curriculum. Further, the New Mexico Medical-Legal Alliance now monitors employer compliance with the breastfeeding law and offers legal support for women who wish to pump milk but are prohibited by their employer.

In 2007, among women who started breastfeeding, 69% were still breastfeeding at 9 weeks postpartum. The prevalence increased to 73% in 2008. Among all New Mexico working mothers giving live birth from 2004–2008, the percentage of women breastfeeding for at least 9 weeks increased from 49% to 60% and among WIC mothers, breastfeeding at least 9 weeks rose from 49% to 53%.

The New Mexico WIC program reported in their 2010 Annual Report that New Mexico helps lead the nation in exclusive breastfeeding at 3 months.1 Approximately 47% percent of infants were exclusively breastfed for at least three months, compared with the U.S. average of 33%.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Breastfeeding Report Card—United States, 2010. CDC National Immunization Survey. Accessed August 1, 2011.