Working Women’s Breastfeeding Experiences

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To describe the breastfeeding experiences of women who returned to work after childbirth.

Design and Methods:

Descriptive, using questionnaires with 50 women. Content analysis of data obtained from women who responded to open-ended questionnaires at 16 weeks postpartum. Three procedures were used: coding data, categorizing text units, and refining the emerging themes.


Four categories emerged from the data:support, attitude, strategic plan, and psychological distress. The women expressed a need for support such as an accepting environment, spatial issues, modeling, and time allowance. They needed to maintain a positive attitude so they could commit to and accomplish their breastfeeding goals. The women developed strategic plans to help prevent breastfeeding problems as well as continue breastfeeding successfully. Finally, they described psychological distress as a conflict between the demands of work and the breastfeeding process. Associated feelings included guilt, stress, or having to sacrifice.

Clinical Implications:

These findings can help nurses and other healthcare professionals in providing anticipatory guidance to women who plan to continue breastfeeding after returning to work. Further research should investigate the relationship between psychological distress, work productivity, family functioning, and breastfeeding activities of working women who breastfeed.

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