Background: Increased maternity leave has been shown to have a positive impact on maternal and child health, and to increase the length of time mothers breastfeed their infants. After childbirth, working women must decide if and when they will return to the workforce. Purpose: To determine the impact of current U.S. family leave policies on Mississippi mothers’ decisions to return to work after the birth of their first child. Methods: A survey was developed to collect information about factors influencing mothers’ decisions to return to work after the birth of their first child. The survey collected study eligibility information, demographics, education and income level, length of maternity leave taken, breastfeeding practices, and household composition from participants. Additionally, attitudes toward U.S. family leave polices and their impacts were assessed. Results: Mississippi mothers were negatively impacted financially by their first pregnancies. Many participants were not eligible for FMLA because they worked for small companies or lacked accrued employment time. Conclusion: The majority of women’s maternity leave was limited by the amount of paid time off they had accrued on their jobs. Most would have taken longer maternity leave if they had they been financially able to do so.



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