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Barriers and Facilitators of Breastfeeding for Primiparous Active Duty Military Mothers: A Qualitative Study

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Technical Report

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Uniformed Services University Of The Health Sciences Bethesda United States

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Active duty military mothers have obligations to the military and their families that do not always balance. Little has been reported about the incidence and duration of breastfeeding in the active duty population. One study cited a breastfeeding initiation rate just under 80 for active duty women, but most stopped breastfeeding between three to eight weeks postpartum. This descriptive study describes the barriers and facilitators of breastfeeding for primiparous active duty military mothers, from their perspective, using a Husserlian phenomenological approach. A semi-structured interview guide was reviewed by experienced qualitative researchers, and used to guide the interviews. A pilot interview was conducted. Purposive sampling was used to recruit four study participants -active duty military primiparous women- at the Pediatric Clinic of a large medical center on the East coast. After bracketing pre-existing assumptions and knowledge, interviewing began. The participants were encouraged to divulge the factors that influenced their decision to feed their infant. Analysis of the data began as it was collected. The transcripts of the interviews was reviewed several times to uncover themes or essences and essential relationships. Learning the motivators that influence active duty military women to breastfeed or not to breastfeed may lead to interventions that may potentially increase the initiation and duration of breastfeeding in primiparous active duty military mothers. The overall theme was support. Other themes were going back to work, and continuation or discontinuation of breastfeeding.

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