Breastfeeding promotion in obstetrical care practices: Limitations and opportunities

Andrea Carlson Gielen*, Ruth R. Faden, David M. Paige, Karen E. Buxton, C. Hendricks Brown, A. Judith Chwalowa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Breastfeeding is now widely accepted as the optimal method of feeding infants, yet many new mothers choose not to breastfeed. Obstetricians, with their direct and continuing access to pregnant women, have a unique opportunity to encourage and support a decision to breastfeed. This study presents results of personal interviews about infant feeding, patient education and breastfeeding promotion with obstetricians and prenatal care nurses from a large urban area. Over one-quarter of respondents did not routinely recommend breastfeeding to their pregnant patients. Almost one-third of the sample only discussed infant feeding if patients inquired, and a majority of respondents noted that few patients do in fact ask questions. Educational materials on infant feeding were widely used, although one-third of the materials included free formula samples. More than two-thirds of respondents also referred their patients elsewhere for infant feeding information. When asked what influences their patients' infant feeding choices, this sample rarely mentioned advice of a health professional. These results suggest that while obstetricians do not generally recommend formula feeding, their advocacy of breastfeeding is often limited and thus, their impact reduced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-12
Number of pages8
JournalPatient education and counseling
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1988


  • breastfeeding
  • infant feeding education
  • obstetrical care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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