Aims To study the personal breastfeeding practices of paediatrician mothers and determine initiation rates and duration of breastfeeding. The survey also studied the availability of work place facilities and support for mothers to promote continuation of breastfeeding and explored their reasons for stopping breastfeeding.
Methods One hundred and twenty-one paediatrician mothers (consultants and trainees) working in fourteen NHS hospital trusts voluntarily completed an online survey from October–December 2012. The survey questionnaire comprised of demographic information and detailed information on the feeding practices adopted for the first child whom they breastfed. Results from the most recent UK Infant feeding survey (2010) were used for comparison with our study results.
Results 99.2% of paediatrician mothers initiated breastfeeding. The median duration of exclusive breastfeeding was 4 months and that of total duration of breastfeeding was 9 months respectively. Flexible hours worked upon return (p = 0.035) and longer maternity leave following baby’s birth (p = 0.027) were shown to have a statistically significant association with the total duration of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding duration of the first child was a strong predictor of breastfeeding duration for the second child (Pearson correlation coefficient: 0.73). 64% of mothers cited work related factors (early return to work, heavy on-call commitments and shift work pattern) as contributory reasons for cessation of breastfeeding. Facilities to support breastmilk expression at workplace were only available for just over half of mothers and information regarding these facilities was not widely available.
Conclusion Paediatrician mothers participating in our study demonstrated excellent initiation and continuation rates of breastfeeding, with these rates being far higher than the UK general public and physician mothers from other developed countries. Flexible working options upon return to work and longer maternity leave had a significant association with increased duration of breastfeeding. Workplace facilities for expressing breastmilk need to be improved to promote breastfeeding among employees within the health service.