Maternal Breastfeeding Experiences After Return to the Workplace

Friday, 26 July 2013: 8:30 AM

Mary Reid Nichols, PhD, APRN, FNP
Family Nursing Department, Frontier Nursing University, Hyden, KY
Nena R. Harris, PhD, MSN, CNM, FNP
Family Nursing, Frontier Nursing University, Hyden, KY

Learning Objective 1: 1. The learner will be able to describe quantitative results for 240 women that include postpartum workplace issues, breastfeeding facilitators and barriers and breastfeeding self-efficacy.

Learning Objective 2: 2. The learner will be able to describe qualitative study results about maternal postpartum return to work experiences and breastfeeding after return to the workplace.

Purpose: This pilot study focused on employed postpartum mothers who were feeding their infants with breast milk after return to the workplace. The study variables included postpartum employee perceptions of workplace breastfeeding support [Greene’s EPBSQ], postpartum breastfeeding barriers and facilitators [PPBFB&FQ], postpartum infant feeding attitudes [Iowa Feeding Scale], postpartum breastfeeding self-efficacy [BFSE Scale] and other pregnancy and postpartum contextual factors (pregnancy, labor, birth, infant data, and additional infant feeding and breastfeeding issues) as well as open-ended questions that provided qualitative data about perceptions and experiences of postparum return to the workplace and breastfeeding.

Methods: This was a descriptive mixed methods study.  Following IRB approval by Frontier Nursing University, a  convenience sample of approximately 280 employed, breastfeeding women resulted via email Listserve, internet social media and from day care centers and obstetrical practices for a final sample size of 255 women aged 22-43. Participants provided demographic and contextual data, quantitative responses to the variable measurement tools and qualitative data electronically via Survey Monkey.

Results: Data were analyzed using SPSS for descriptive data analysis methods and content analysis to answer open-ended questions. The particpants were predominately professional women who were highly educated. They reported above average levels of breastfeeding self-efficacy but also identified more barriers than facilitators to breastfeeding particularly in the workplace and with employers. The employed mothers shared detailed information about their own perceptions and experiences about the workplace and breastfeeding their infants as well as what they had wished they’d known or planned for before they returned to work after giving birth.  

Conclusion: The results contribute to additonal research evidence that is expected to provide the basis for care for prenatal and postpartum women: more specifically, preparation, support and education about maternal employment and infant feeding, particularly breastfeeding after return to postpartum employment. The results may additionally impact social and national employment policies for mothers with infants world-wide.