When work and family blend together: Examining the daily experiences of breastfeeding mothers at work

Allison S. Gabriel, Sabrina D. Volpone, Rebecca L. Macgowan, Marcus M. Butts, Christina M. Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Although several work–family theories describe complexities associated with fulfilling work and family roles, extant research has not fully explained blended work–family experiences, such as women working full-time and breastfeeding at work. To address this shortcoming, we conducted a multistudy investigation. In Study 1, we interviewed 38 women about their daily experiences surrounding breastfeeding at work. We then developed a theoretical model to examine possible challenges and benefits associated with this blended work–family experience and tested it with an experience sampling investigation assessing 106 women over 15 workdays in Study 2. Results suggested that breastfeeding interference increased negative affect and decreased positive affect daily, with negative affect hindering breastfeeding goal progress (i.e., ounces of breast milk produced at work) and work goal progress. However, positive experiences tied to breastfeeding enrichment decreased negative affect and increased positive affect, with positive affect increasing work–family balance satisfaction. Beyond these relationships, we explored effects associated with contextual features of breastfeeding at work—breastfeeding stigma, breastfeeding compassion, and quality of the breastfeeding space. Combined, our work enhances theoretical understanding of blended work–family experiences, highlighting that blending work and family roles daily can yield both positive and negative consequences across domains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1337-1369
Number of pages33
JournalAcademy of Management Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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