Personal breastfeeding behavior of physician mothers is associated with their clinical breastfeeding advocacy

Maryam Sattari, David Levine, Dan Neal, Janet R. Serwint

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: Despite excellent breastfeeding initiation rates, physician mothers as a group are at risk of premature breastfeeding cessation. The main obstacles and reasons for breastfeeding cessation among physician mothers are work-related. We conducted this study to further explore physician mothers' personal infant feeding decisions and behavior as well as their clinical breastfeeding advocacy. Subjects and Methods: We interviewed 80 physician mothers, mainly affiliated with the University of Florida College of Medicine (Gainesville, FL), using a questionnaire. Descriptive statistics were calculated with SPSS software version 16 (SPSS, Chicago, IL). Results: The 80 mothers had a total of 152 children and were able to successfully initiate breastfeeding for 97% of the infants. Although maternal goal for duration of breastfeeding had been 12 months or more for 57% of the infants, only 34% of the children were actually still breastfeeding at 12 months. In 43% of cases, physician mothers stated that breastfeeding cessation was due to demands of work. Furthermore, physician mothers who reported actively promoting breastfeeding among their female patients and housestaff had significantly longer personal breastfeeding duration compared with physician mothers who denied actively promoting breastfeeding. Conclusions: Our findings not only emphasize the discrepancy between physician mothers' breastfeeding duration goal and their actual breastfeeding duration, but also highlight the association between their personal breastfeeding success and their own active breastfeeding advocacy. Whether this association is causal cannot be determined by the current study and can be examined further by prospective studies. Our results support developing and implementing workplace strategies and programs to promote breastfeeding duration among physician mothers returning to work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-37
Number of pages7
JournalBreastfeeding Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics
  • Health Policy
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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