Date of Defense:
October 27, 2010
Objective: Breastfeeding rates in the US are low. Healthy People 2010 recommends 75% breastfeeding initiation rates immediately postpartum with 50% of infants still breastfeeding at 6 months of age. In 2007, US mothers met the initiation goal but at 6 months only 43% were still breastfeeding. Maternal employment outside the home is negatively associated with breastfeeding duration. Access to lactation rooms at the workplace has been shown to positively influence breastfeeding duration.
Methods: We conducted a needs assessment survey on a convenience sample of students, staff and faculty at the Academic Health Center at the University of Minnesota to gather information on knowledge of, and access to, lactation rooms, and attitudes about breastfeeding and workplace accommodation.
Results: Our findings show that students were less aware of the existence of lactation rooms than non-students, and men were less aware of them than women. Students reported mostly finding lactation rooms on their own (walking past a lactation room, seeing signs) as opposed to non-students who reported finding them by word of mouth or through more official University channels (human resources, printed materials, university website, etc). Respondents reported the need for more lactation rooms in the Academic Health Center that were conveniently located and better advertised.
Conclusion: Our sample indicated they felt supporting breastfeeding at the workplace would decrease absenteeism and turnover and improve the public image of and recruitment to the Academic Health Center.