An Exploratory Look at the Role of Childcare Providers as a Support and Resource for Breastfeeding Mothers

Alexandra Lundquist, Brent A. McBride, Sharon M. Donovan, Alexandra Kieffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: The childcare setting remains largely unexplored as a potential barrier to breastfeeding continuation and, therefore, the lack of interventions targeting childcare providers may be a missed opportunity for improved breastfeeding support. This article explores the perceptions of 25 first-time breastfeeding mothers on navigating the critical transition to childcare and the role of childcare providers regarding breastfeeding support. Methods: Mothers were selected if they indicated an intent to breastfeed on a prenatal questionnaire and had enrolled their child in childcare. Semistructured interviews guided by Bronfenbrenner's bioecological model were conducted to capture mothers' experiences. Responses were analyzed utilizing thematic analysis to generate themes rooted in mothers' experiences with childcare and breastfeeding. Results: A thematic analysis resulted in three key themes: Providers are not Critically Evaluated, A Stressful Transition, and Childcare as a Service, not Support. These themes indicated that although mothers intended to continue breastfeeding during and after the transition to childcare, they had not previously given much consideration to the childcare setting beyond that of a service provider. Conclusion: Findings illustrate new considerations to support modern breastfeeding mothers through the transition to work and childcare are needed such as basic and practical education and training to prepare childcare providers to support breastfeeding mothers in the way that best meets their needs, enhanced education for mothers on how to seek and evaluate providers for breastfeeding competence, and policy initiatives focused on fostering engagement between mothers and providers. By taking mothers' perceptions into consideration, researchers, practitioners, and policymakers can offer breastfeeding support that mothers will be receptive to and more likely to engage with, thereby advancing the health of both mothers and infants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-319
Number of pages7
JournalBreastfeeding Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2019


  • breastfeeding
  • breastfeeding support
  • childcare
  • early care and education
  • qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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