Barriers to breastfeeding in a resident clinic

Breastfeed Med. 2013 Jun;8(3):273-6. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2012.0020. Epub 2012 Aug 7.


Despite the known health benefits for mother and infant, compliance with exclusive breastfeeding continues to challenge many healthcare providers. In an ongoing attempt to maintain the goals of the Healthy People 2010 initiative, our institution set out to identify patients with suboptimal breastfeeding rates in order to recognize potential barriers. Review of breastfeeding rates at the time of discharge noted significantly lower participation by clinic patients. In order to develop successful interventions, the aim of this study was to survey clinic patients to determine their intentions, attitudes, and obstacles to the practice of exclusive breastfeeding. In total, 188 surveys were completed during a 2-month time period. Respondents were primarily Hispanic (76.4% vs. 9.6% black and 8.4% white) and multiparous (57.5%) with a mean age of 25.7 years (range, 15-39 years old). Although 95.3% of respondents indicated that they believed breastmilk provided adequate nutrition, only 35.3% planned on exclusively breastfeeding. Access to free formula through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children was the most common reason not to breastfeed (48.3%), followed by fear of pain and the need to return to work/school. Patients reported that the person with the greatest influence on their decision to breastfeed was their partner/spouse. Access to a lactation counselor was the most popular intervention requested, even among experienced multiparous patients (78.9% of whom had previously breastfed). In conclusion, the survey indicated that planned exclusive breastfeeding rates are low among this inner-city resident clinic and interventions should include involvement of the partners/spouses and access to lactational support.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Breast Feeding* / psychology
  • Breast Feeding* / statistics & numerical data
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Infant Formula / statistics & numerical data
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Maternal-Child Health Centers
  • Mothers* / psychology
  • Postnatal Care / psychology
  • Postnatal Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Spouses* / psychology
  • United States / epidemiology