181078 Personal Breastfeeding Experiences of Physician Mothers: Implications For Advocacy

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Chris Anne Rodgers Arthur, PhD, MPH, CHES , The University of MS Medical Center, MS Institute for Minority and Geographic Health, Ridgeland, MS
Women often look to female physicians as role models and advocates in personal health and lifestyle choices. Therefore, female physicians are a large potential target audience for enhanced breastfeeding education, with the potential to influence peers, patients, and systems.

We mailed surveys to female physicians across Mississippi to determine their professional breastfeeding practices and to determine to what they followed published recommendations for breastfeeding their own children. We found that the majority of female physicians in Mississippi breastfed their own children and recommended it to their patients. However, we also found that most are untrained in lactation management, and experienced difficulties breastfeeding their own children. The majority supplemented and weaned their children by six months and cited various problems such as low milk supply and return to work as the reasons for introducing formula as the sole source of infant nutrition.

In addition to the requested responses to the items on the survey; many of the respondents volunteered personal commentary and emotional appeals, written in the margins of the instrument. Pride, accomplishment, frustration, disappointment, and failure were among the reported experiences; many acknowledged the lack of training in this important area of health and medicine within U.S. medical education.The purpose of this presentation is to illuminate the potential for system-wide advocacy and change within this single group of women.

Learning Objectives:
(1) Identify areas in which health educators can collaborate with health care providers to increase breastfeeding rates in U.S. communities (2) Discuss the potential for system-wide changes for breastfeeding advocacy and support through the voices of female physicians

Keywords: Breastfeeding, Advocacy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I developed the instrument and conducted the study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.