Breastfeeding Advocacy: A Look into the Gap Between Breastfeeding Support Guidelines and Personal Breastfeeding Experiences of Faculty Physicians.
Objectives: Despite increased lactation support for mothers over the past few decades, physician mothers still face considerable challenges to achieving their breastfeeding goals. Disparities in breastfeeding exist between physician and nonphysician mothers in the United States. To formulate an effective advocacy agenda for this population, we surveyed faculty physician mothers about their breastfeeding experiences. We hypothesized that identifying frequent, modifiable barriers to breastfeeding could generate ideas for improved lactation support for female physicians. Study Design: A deidentified breastfeeding survey was sent to female faculty physicians at an academic children's hospital in 2020. Inclusion criteria included female faculty physicians who had given birth within the past 5 years. The responses of those who selected "yes" when asked if they had breastfed were analyzed. Results: Fifteen percent of respondents stated that they did not meet their breastfeeding goals. The most prevalent theme for both positive and negative factors in the qualitative analysis was pumping breast milk. Physician mothers provided key insight into (1) the impact of their role as physicians on their breastfeeding experience, (2) impact of their return to work on breastfeeding, and (3) ideas for improved lactation support. Conclusion: This study highlights the need to improve maternal and infant health by advocating for faculty physicians who are providing breast milk for their children. Advocacy efforts should focus on improving conditions for breast milk pumping and for effective policies around return to work after delivery. Further development and study of individualized breastfeeding support plans for physician mothers is needed.
breastfeeding; faculty physicians; lactation support
French PT, Dickmeyer JJ, Winterer CM, Stone SE, Sherman AK, Simpson EA. Breastfeeding Advocacy: A Look into the Gap Between Breastfeeding Support Guidelines and Personal Breastfeeding Experiences of Faculty Physicians. Breastfeed Med. 2022;17(3):239-246. doi:10.1089/bfm.2021.0231