Integrative Review of Breastfeeding Duration and Influencing Factors Among Women Serving Active Duty in the U.S. Military

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To determine what is known about breastfeeding duration among active-duty servicewomen and to identify factors related to military employment that facilitate or inhibit breastfeeding.

Data Sources:

Literature searches using CINAHL and MEDLINE were conducted with the keywords military and breastfeeding for articles published from January 2000 through May 2016.

Study Selection:

Abstracts and full-text research articles were retrieved and analyzed that met the inclusion criteria: English language, U.S. active-duty military personnel, peer-reviewed, and identified facilitators and/or barriers to breastfeeding.

Data Extraction:

Eight studies were analyzed for quality and content; analysis was guided by Cooper's five stages of review synthesis processes.

Data Synthesis:

Findings indicated that although breastfeeding initiation rates are similar to those for civilians, military women may discontinue sooner. Perception of military work as a barrier is associated with shorter duration, and enlisted personnel were less likely to breastfeed to 12 months than commissioned officers. Military women experienced work-related barriers: lack of proper facilities for pumping, pressures and obligations related to rank, conflicts between mother/soldier demands, physical fitness/weight standards, concerns related to exposure to hazardous material, and prolonged separations from their infants.


Most women in the military serve during their childbearing years when they may want to breastfeed. Strategies to promote breastfeeding include advocacy for policy changes, education of servicewomen and supervisors/commanders, and implementation of a breastfeeding class that addresses military-specific factors.

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