Breastfeeding Support Experiences of Registered Nurses in a Large Children’s Hospital System

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Abstract

Objective

To investigate the workplace breastfeeding support experiences of registered nurses (RNs) and how these experiences differed by type of unit.

Design

A cross-sectional descriptive design.

Setting

A large children’s hospital health system in the Midwestern United States.

Participants

Seventy-eight RNs who were concurrently breastfeeding and working or who had done so within the past 12 months.

Methods

The Workplace Breastfeeding Support Scale was used to measure the degree of support that breastfeeding RNs experienced at work with four subscales: Break Time, Work Place Policy, Technical Support, and Environment (total Cronbach’s α = .87). An invitation with a link to the online Workplace Breastfeeding Support Scale and demographic surveys was distributed to RNs via the hospital e-mail system. Descriptive statistics and analysis of variance were used to characterize support experiences and explore unit-based differences in support levels.

Results

Of the participants, 35% were first-time mothers, and 60% were currently breastfeeding. Overall, participants rated their support positively; scores on the Workplace Policy subscale were highest, and scores on the Break Time subscale were lowest among the four domains of support. Among RNs who had ceased breastfeeding, we found a positive, weak correlation between break time support and duration of breastfeeding (r = .34, p = .035). No significant differences in support levels were found among nursing unit types or inpatient versus outpatient settings.

Conclusion

Overall, breastfeeding support in the workplace was positively rated, and adequate break time was positively related to duration of breastfeeding among participants. No evidence was found of different support by unit type in this hospital, which suggests that support is consistent across unit types. Future research is needed to appraise lactation support for nurses and other employees in different types of hospitals and geographic areas.

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