Combining breastfeeding and employment: The salient beliefs of nurses working shift work in a hospital


Background:The return to work is often a problematic time for breastfeeding mothers. Registered nurses (RN) working shift work in an acute care facility, often struggle to maintain a balance between employment obligations and maternal desire. This study identifies the salient beliefs of RNs to maintain lactation, upon return to work after maternity leave, using the Theory of Planned Behavior as the theoretical framework.

Method:Interviews were conducted with 17 registered nurses using a semi-structured question-set aimed at identifying the behavioral, normative, and control beliefs related to combining employment and breastfeeding for at least six months after return to work. Breastfeeding normative, behavioral, and control beliefs were assessed and categorized.

Results:Breastfeeding is believed to be beneficial, yet requires a lot of planning, time, and effort for the RN at work. Registered nurses struggled with balancing their responsibilities at work with their maternal duties. This role-conflict was evident as feelings of guilt, worry, anxiety, and stress emerged during the interviews. Lactating RNs require a supportive environment with sufficient staffing to ensure patient care, desirable pumping location, and ample break time.

Conclusion:The beliefs identified by this study can potentially facilitate the RN's ability to continue lactation upon return to work. Future interventions in this population could be aimed at creating supportive breastfeeding environments, providing convenient pumping locations, and ensuring adequate time for lactation maintenance.

This publication has been peer reviewed.
Publication Type: 
Journal Article
Mestepey, S., Steele-Moses, S. K., & Knobloch, A
Year of Publication: 
Journal, Book, Magazine or Other Publication Title: 
International Archives of Nursing and Health Care
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