A prospective study documenting women's experiences of combining breastfeeding and employment
Review TypeNone: Degree-based Submission
Repository Posting Date2020-07-24T21:43:15Z
Author(s)Hedstrom, Louise W.
Author DetailsDr. Louise W. Hedstrom, DNSc, RN
Lead Author Sigma AffliationKappa Nu
Level of EvidenceEthnography
Research ApproachQualitative Research
CINAHL HeadingsBreast Feeding; Mothers, Working; Breast Feeding; Infant Feeding Schedules; Coping; Breast Feeding--Psychosocial Factors; Life Experiences
This investigation explored women's perceptions of their experiences combining employment and breastfeeding. The study was based on the feminist concept of the importance of analyzing the condition of women's lives from their own perspectives. Themes of motivation, support, and obstacles emerged. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected using semistructured interview guides with a convenience sample of 42 women and a prospective, longitudinal design. The women were interviewed in-person on one of four postpartum hospital units, and by telephone approximately once a month for a period of four to nine months after returning to work, or until they had weaned or decided not to return to work. The mean number of interviews per study participant was five. All interviews were tape-recorded. The study sample were predominately white, middle-class, primiparous, married women with some college education. Twenty-eight (67%) of the women combined breastfeeding and employment for an average of nearly 15 weeks. Three basic patterns of infant feeding developed. Typically women breastfed before and after work and on weekends. In addition, 13 women expressed milk at work (Pattern 1), 10 did not (Pattern 2), and five were able to breastfeed during the work day (Pattern 3). Women using the three patterns breastfed for significantly different mean durations of 24.8, 18.6, and 31.5 weeks respectively. Planned duration of breastfeeding correlated strongly with outcome, as did specificity of response to plan of duration. Variables of work status and length of maternity leave were not predictive of duration of breastfeeding. Qualitative data revealed difficulties of short leaves (primarily six to eight weeks), negative responses from relatives and coworkers about breastfeeding, inadequate facilities for expressing milk at work, and lack of access to the baby during the work day. Individualized coping strategies developed. The predominate motivation for breastfeeding was belief that it was best for baby. Tangible and emotional support was primarily from husbands. The overwhelming recommendation was "Do it! It's worth it!" despite acknowledging the commitment required. Suggestions were offered to increase manageability. Implications for research, practice, and education are described.
DescriptionThis dissertation has also been disseminated through the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. Dissertation/thesis number: 9211064; ProQuest document ID: 303950206. The author still retains copyright.
Advisor(s)Naber, Sarah J.
Degree GrantorRush University
NotesThis item has not gone through this repository's peer-review process, but has been accepted by the indicated university or college in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the specified degree.
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