A qualitative study investigating the barriers to returning to work for breastfeeding mothers in Ireland

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dc.contributor.author Desmond, Deirdre
dc.contributor.author Meaney, Sarah
dc.date.accessioned 2017-06-22T13:55:54Z
dc.date.available 2017-06-22T13:55:54Z
dc.date.issued 2016-06-10
dc.identifier.citation Desmond, D. and Meaney, S. (2016) 'A qualitative study investigating the barriers to returning to work for breastfeeding mothers in Ireland', International Breastfeeding Journal, 11, 16 (9pp). doi: 10.1186/s13006-016-0075-8 en
dc.identifier.volume 11
dc.identifier.startpage 1
dc.identifier.endpage 9
dc.identifier.issn 1746-4358
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10468/4173
dc.identifier.doi 10.1186/s13006-016-0075-8
dc.description.abstract Background: The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that mothers exclusively breastfeed for the first 6 months of an infant’s life. In Ireland, currently paid maternity leave is 26 weeks and the expectant mother is required by law to finish work 2 weeks before her expected delivery date. Mothers wishing to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months or longer find themselves having to take holiday leave or unpaid leave from work in order to meet the WHO’s guidelines. The aim of this study is to explore women’s experiences of breastfeeding after their return to work in Ireland. Methods: This study was carried out utilizing a qualitative design. Initially 25 women who returned to the workforce while continuing to breastfeed were contacted, 16 women returned consent forms and were subsequently contacted to take part in an interview. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim and thematic analysis was employed to establish recurring patterns and themes throughout the interviews. Results: Women noted that cultural attitudes in Ireland coupled with inadequate or inconsistent advice from health professionals posed the biggest challenge they had to overcome in order to achieve to 6 months exclusive breastfeeding. The findings of this study illustrate that mothers with the desire to continue to breastfeed after their return to work did so with some difficulty. Many did not disclose to their employers that they were breastfeeding and did not make enquiries about being facilitated to continue to breastfeed after their return to the workplace. The perceived lack of support from their employers as well as embarrassment about their breastfeeding status meant many women concealed that they were breastfeeding after their return to the workplace. Conclusion: While it has been suggested that WHO guidelines for exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months may be unattainable for many women due to work commitments, a different problem exists in Ireland. Mothers struggle to overcome cultural and societal obstacles coupled with inadequate support from health professionals. Encouraging and facilitating women to continue to breastfeed after they return to work will help to normalise breastfeeding within Irish culture and promote continued breastfeeding as a viable option for working mothers. en
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.publisher BioMed Central en
dc.relation.uri https://internationalbreastfeedingjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13006-016-0075-8
dc.rights © 2016, the Author(s). Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated. en
dc.rights.uri http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ en
dc.subject Breastfeeding en
dc.subject Returning to work en
dc.subject Supports en
dc.subject Qualitative en
dc.title A qualitative study investigating the barriers to returning to work for breastfeeding mothers in Ireland en
dc.type Article (peer-reviewed) en
dc.internal.authorcontactother Deirdre Desmond, Epidemiology and Public Health, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland. +353-21-490-3000 Email: desmond.deirdre@yahoo.ie en
dc.internal.availability Full text available en
dc.description.version Published Version en
dc.description.status Peer reviewed en
dc.identifier.journaltitle International Breastfeeding Journal en
dc.internal.IRISemailaddress desmond.deirdre@yahoo.ie en
dc.identifier.articleid 16


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© 2016, the Author(s). Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated. Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as © 2016, the Author(s). Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
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