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Breastfeeding mothers [What Europe does for you]

With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for breastfeeding mothers.

If you recently gave birth and are breastfeeding your baby, you may be wondering how you are going to reconcile the need to go back to work with the desire to continue breastfeeding. As mother’s milk is known to be very important for infants, the EU supports breastfeeding, including in the workplace, by means of legislation, information campaigns, and funding for projects and research.


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Multitasking businesswoman with her son working at the office

© rh2010 / Fotolia

EU law forbids discrimination against breastfeeding mothers, especially in the work place. Their health and safety is the highest priority and EU countries must comply with minimum standards. If working conditions could harm the breastfeeding mother, the employer must adjust them to ensure her well-being. If that is not possible, she must be given leave. EU law also gives protection against night work for a period following childbirth. All the while, the mother’s employment rights must be upheld.

Although there has been a significant progress regarding the protection of breastfeeding mothers on their return to work, there is room for improvement. The EU is currently working on more detailed rules to facilitate successful transitions between maternity leave and employment, including breastfeeding facilities at the work place and breaks during working hours. The EU believes that mother-friendly practices and child welfare should be a public health priority across Europe.

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