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This paper reviewed and present evidence associated with family-friendly policies that support breastfeeding in the interest of optimal early childhood development. A substantial gap in the literature remains surrounding women and work and breastfeeding in low-resource environments and fragile settings. The ILO reports that women provide three times the unpaid care work compared with men. Informal sector employment and unpaid care work restricts women from accessing social protection policies that support breastfeeding, such as maternity leave. In these settings, leave policies and workplace support policies have little to no bearing.
Overall trends in the reviewed literature indicate that national policies and workplace interventions may support increased initiation, exclusivity and longer breastfeeding duration among families choosing to breastfeed. Generally, longer leave is better than shorter leave, and paid leave appears to be associated with better breastfeeding outcomes compared with unpaid leave. Also, national standards may provide greater protection for breastfeeding by requiring compliance in the employment sector to ensure equitable access to supportive services. In turn, on the population level, optimal breastfeeding provides opportunities for children to grow and thrive and reach their full human potential. Based on this summary, the following key points are highlighted: