"Frustrated," "depressed," and "devastated" pediatric trainees: US academic medical centers fail to provide adequate workplace breastfeeding support

J Hum Lact. 2015 May;31(2):240-8. doi: 10.1177/0890334414568119. Epub 2015 Jan 14.


Background: Exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) is recommended until about 6 months of age. Pediatricians are at the forefront of encouraging mothers to achieve this goal, yet pediatricians who parent during their training may face substantial barriers in achieving their own breastfeeding goals.

Objectives: This study aimed to assess breastfeeding support available to US pediatricians in training and the effect of trainees' personal experiences on their attitude toward breastfeeding.

Methods: An online survey was emailed to American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Medical Students, Residents, and Fellowship Trainees members.

Results: There were 927 respondents, of which 421 had children and 346 breastfed their children. Almost 80% agreed that 6 months is the ideal duration for EBF. One in 4 did not have access to or were not aware of a private room to express milk or breastfeed. Forty percent needed to extend the duration of their training for a longer maternity leave, with breastfeeding a factor for longer leave among 44%. One in 4 did not meet their breastfeeding duration goal, and 1 in 3 did not meet their goal for EBF. Negative emotions were common among those not meeting goals. Ninety-two percent felt that their or their partner's experience with breastfeeding affected their clinical interaction with patients' mothers.

Conclusion: A majority of respondents cited problems with breastfeeding support during training, and many failed to meet their intended goals. Not meeting personal breastfeeding goals was associated with negative emotions and influenced how they counsel about breastfeeding as a result of personal and often negative attitudes.

Keywords: breastfeeding; pediatric trainees; residency.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pediatrics / education*
  • Pregnancy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Workplace*
  • Young Adult