Active Duty Women's Perceptions of Breastfeeding Support in the Military Setting

Martin, Sarah, Nursing Practice - School of Nursing, University of Virginia
Drake, Emily, Department of Family, Community & Mental Health Systems, University of Virginia
Gibson, Mary, Department of Family, Community & Mental Health Systems, University of Virginia

The purpose of this capstone is to evaluate the current perceptions of breastfeeding support for active duty women serving in the US Armed Forces to identify barriers to breastfeeding duration and to help assess current lactation policies and programs throughout the Department of Defense.
An online survey based on the Workplace Breastfeeding Support Scale (WBSS; Bai, Peng, & Fly, 2008) was used to collect data from active duty military mothers. A Facebook social media page was created to describe the survey, discuss desired outcomes and uses of the information obtained, and provide a direct link to the survey. Data was collected and analyzed using SPSS software to evaluate active duty women’s perceptions of breastfeeding support in the military.
Three hundred and eighteen active duty women participated in the online survey. The average Workplace Breastfeeding Support Scale scores for active duty women was 50.20 (SD= 15.75). Comparing WBSS scores and branch of service, women in the Army had significantly lower WBSS scores (M= 45.85) then women in the Air Force (M= 53.96, p< .001). Enlisted women had significantly lower scores (M= 47.12) than officers (M= 54.62, p< .001). Also noted were significantly lower scores of active duty women who were Hispanic (M= 44.30) and women who had lower levels of education (M= 46.90, p= .006). Initial qualitative analysis revealed a lack of time and a place to pump/breastfeed, unsupportive supervisors and co-workers, and duty requirements as significant barriers to continuation of breastfeeding among active duty mothers.
The goal of this capstone is to evaluate the perceptions of breastfeeding support in the active duty population to identify barriers to achieving breastfeeding goals among military mothers. The Department of Defense may be able to improve breastfeeding rates for all active duty mothers by implementing and adhering to lactation policies and focusing support efforts for enlisted women in all branches of service.

DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
Breastfeeding, military, policy, support
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
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