241159 Assessing the Illinois Breastfeeding Environment: A Qualitative Analysis

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sadie Wych, BA , School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Despite the fact that it is clear that breastfeeding offers substantial benefits for the mother, child, and society, breastfeeding rates, especially in certain groups, continues to be far below the recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months. Purpose – To examine the perceived barriers and suggested strategies of stakeholders regarding breastfeeding in Illinois to help facilitate planning around breastfeeding issues. The data gathered was used for the qualitative section of the Illinois Blueprint for Breastfeeding: A Map for Change, a strategic plan to address breastfeeding disparities in Illinois. Methods – A qualitative study that used a group forum structure to gather the perceptions of 62 participants about barriers to breastfeeding and suggested strategies to address these barriers. The participants in the 5 forums were very diverse and included mothers, doulas, breastfeeding peer counselors, lactation consultants, CLCs (Certified Lactation Counselor), IBCLCs (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), health educators, case managers, program coordinators, nurses, physicians, and other social service providers. Results – Barriers for breastfeeding fell into 7 categories: perceptions, support, education, health care delivery system, media/advertising, data/research, and policy. Suggested strategies categories were similar but didn't include perceptions or data/research. Important emerging themes were generated regarding barriers that mothers face and strategies to tackle these barriers. Mothers had many negative feelings towards breastfeeding that appeared to be greatly influenced by the attitudes of their social network. Education for both mothers and service providers was acknowledged as being inadequate for mothers to successfully breastfeed. Aggressive formula marketing and no positive media representation of breastfeeding mothers was also seen as a significant barrier. Support was seen as lacking at all levels: interpersonal, community, organizational and public policy. It appears that improvements in all of these areas is needed before a culture shift towards breastfeeding as the “normal” infant feeding practice is realized.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Describe perceived barriers to breastfeeding in Illinois by service providers and mothers. Compare strategies suggested by forum participants with current recommendations for increasing breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity.

Keywords: Breastfeeding, Infant Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I completed the qualitative data analysis on the data gathered form the 5 forums as the Qualitative Data Assistant for HealthConnect One.
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.