Lactation Consultants’ Perceived Barriers to Providing Professional Breastfeeding Support


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Abstract

Background:Addressing suboptimal breastfeeding initiation and duration rates is a priority in the United States. To address challenges to improving these rates, the voices of the providers who work with breastfeeding mothers should be heard.Research aim:The purpose of this study was to explore lactation consultants’ perceived barriers to managing early breastfeeding problems.Methods:This qualitative study was conducted with a grounded theory methodological approach. In-depth interviews were conducted with 30 International Board Certified Lactation Consultants across Florida. Lactation consultants were from a range of practice settings, including hospitals, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children clinics, private practice, and pediatric offices. Data were digitally recorded, transcribed, and analyzed in Atlas.ti.Results:A range of barriers was identified and grouped into the following categories/themes: indirect barriers (social norms, knowledge, attitudes); direct occupational barriers (institutional constraints, lack of coordination, poor service delivery); and direct individual barriers (social support, mother’s self-efficacy). A model was developed illustrating the factors that influence the role enactment of lactation consultants in managing breastfeeding problems.Conclusion:Inadequate support for addressing early breastfeeding challenges is compounded by a lack of collaboration among various healthcare providers and the family. Findings provide insight into the professional management issues of early breastfeeding problems faced by lactation consultants. Team-based, interprofessional approaches to breastfeeding support for mothers and their families are needed; improving interdisciplinary collaboration could lead to better integration of lactation consultants who are educated and experienced in providing lactation support and management of breastfeeding problems.

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