Maternity Leave and Breastfeeding Rates

May 28, 2012. Posted in: Blog Posts

Maternity Leave and Breastfeeding Rates

Here’s another interesting infographic that looks at both maternity leave and breastfeeding rates in some developed countries. There are a number of studies that show a positive correlation between length of maternity leave and breastfeeding rates, but it is hard to see major trends in this particular graphic. There are many variables that influence breastfeeding rates from country to country, and maternity leave is only one of them. Click on the image to see a larger version.


Related information

Universal paid maternity leave in the US: What would it cost?

A comparison of breastfeeding rates by country

Breastfeeding: The Numbers – Breastfeeding rates in the United States and worldwide


Data sources

Save the Children’s 2012 State of the World’s Mothers Report

European Nutrition and Health Report 2009. Forum of Nutrition Vol. 62. Edited by Ibrahim Elmadfa, Vienna. European Commission, Health and Consumer Protection, Directorate-General.

National Perinatal Health Reports from

Pomerleau J. Promotion of Breastfeeding in Countries Wishing to Join the European Union: Analysis of national activities for the promotion of breastfeeding. Nutrition and Food Security Programme, WHO Regional Office for Europe. Updated 2004.

Berger-Achituv S, Shohat T, Garty BZ. Breast-feeding Patterns in Central Israel. Isr Med Assoc J. 2005 Aug;7(8):515-9.

Merten S, Dratva J, Ackermann-Liebrich U. Do baby-friendly hospitals influence breastfeeding duration on a national level? Pediatrics. 2005 Nov;116(5):e702-8. (Switzerland)

Ergebnisse der nationalen Studie zu Säuglingsernährung – 2003: Säuglingsernährung in der Schweiz. (Switzerland)

The National Strategic Plan of Action for Breastfeeding 2008-2012. Ministry of Health, New Zealand. April 2009.

Breastfeeding Data: Analysis of 2004-2009 Data. Royal NZ Plunket Society. August 31, 2010. (New Zealand)

The National Infant Feeding Survey 2008, prepared for the Health Service Executive, Ireland.


Andy June 22, 2012 at 3:22 pm

For as much money as the U.S. federal government spends each year on a zillion different research projects, you’d think someone who push for a serious investment in research on the benefits of breastfeeding. The vast majority of research that I’ve seen indicates that breastfeeding should not only be strongly encouraged by society, but that it should also be rewarded through more legislation like the Affordable Care Act. 

People who ask who really benefits from breastfeeding would be better served asking who does NOT benefit from breastfeeding. I think the second question would have a much much shorter answer.

Chamberlain July 1, 2012 at 5:41 am

This infographic is packed with information that i never knew before… our government should really start paying attention to breastfeeding now too… 

CB August 1, 2012 at 9:49 am

Go, Norway!!

Sadsadsadie August 3, 2012 at 10:22 pm

The info graphic for Canada is wrong; most of that leave is paid at a reduced rate (funded by our Employment insurance at a rate of 55% of regular pay). Still interesting!

kellymom August 3, 2012 at 11:00 pm

 Sadsadsadie, the information I used is from this page:, which doesn’t mention two different rates of payment. Can you find me a reference so I can make the change?

yowmeg February 3, 2013 at 8:46 pm

That link has the info. It mentions both the two week waiting period and the reduced rate (up to 55% of salary). You’ll note it talks about ‘EI benefits’ instead of Maternity or Paternal Leave, but the terms of interchangeable in this instance.

“Before you can start receiving EI benefits, there is a two-week waiting period during which you will not be paid….For most people, the basic rate for calculating EI benefits is 55% of your average insurable weekly earnings, up to a maximum amount. As of January 1, 2013, the maximum yearly insurable earnings amount is $47,400. This means that you can receive a maximum amount of $501 per week.”

Also a side note: only EI insurable earnings hours worked count towards being able to receive maternity benefits. As a Ph.D. candidate, my Teaching Assistanceship and my course instructor hours counted towards Mat leave, but my Research Assistanceship hours (about 1/2 of my pay) did not and I was not eligeable for the benefit.

Vikki August 8, 2012 at 8:00 pm

From what I read, it’s correct. I just came off maternity leave and it was as it is shown here. I was not paid for the first two weeks, then was paid 55% of my earnings for the past year. There is also a ceiling to the payments. Yes, it is EI, but it’s still maternity leave and that’s how the government views it too.

Vikki August 8, 2012 at 7:57 pm

If people stopped giving such exorbitant salaries to people who deserve far less and stopped giving bailouts to companies that should go bankrupt, we could definitely solve much of the world’s poverty and live in health, wealth and happiness. 

@AbbieJWinter May 5, 2013 at 5:33 am

Really interesting information and I’m not surprised by the UK’s results