Clin Colon Rectal Surg 2023; 36(05): 333-337
DOI: 10.1055/s-0043-1764288
Review Article

The Importance of Parental Leave and Lactation Support for Surgeons

Arielle E. Kanters
1   Department of Colorectal Surgery, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio
Sarah P. Shubeck
2   Department of Surgery, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
› Author Affiliations


Despite the growing population of surgeons who will spend the bulk of their potential childbearing years in medical school, training, or early in practice, the stigma associated with pregnancy remains. The challenges of childbearing for surgeons also extend to the pregnancy experience from a health perspective including increased rates of infertility, miscarriage, and preterm labor. Given the unique demands of a surgical practice, surgeons may experience pressure to minimize the disruption of their work during and after pregnancy. This may include attempts at carrying a full workload until the day of delivery, reducing the length of planned parental leave, and not requesting accommodations for time to express milk. Concern for discrimination, clinical productivity expectations, and promotion timelines can limit a surgeon's ability to receive pregnancy-related support and adequate parental leave. Though not all surgeons will choose to pursue pregnancy, we must still acknowledge the need to support these individuals. Furthermore, this support should not be limited to the pregnancy alone but include postpartum support including that related to family leave and lactation. Here, we provide an overview of just some of the challenges faced by surgeons in the pursuit of parenthood and present the arguments for accommodations related to pregnancy, parental leave, and lactation.

Publication History

Article published online:
02 August 2023

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