School of Nursing and Midwifery, Western Sydney University, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith, New South Wales Australia.
Background: In order to meet World Health Organization recommendations for breastfeeding, many women need to combine breastfeeding with return to work or study. Barriers are often encountered when returning to work or study, which can lead to premature cessation of breastfeeding. This study aimed to explore Australian women's experiences of breastfeeding at one multi-campus university.
Method: This paper draws on the qualitative findings from a mixed-methods study conducted between April and November 2017. An online survey was used to explore women's experiences of breastfeeding at university. In total, 108 people participated in the survey. After the deletion of incomplete surveys, 79 staff and students survey responses were analysed. In-depth interviews were also carried out with 10 staff and students. Open text responses and in-depth interviews were analysed using thematic analysis.
Results: The analysis revealed four themes. The first theme, , explores staff and students' experiences of maternity leave, flexible work arrangements, and on-campus childcare, and their relationships with tutors, supervisors, managers and colleagues. The second theme, presents staff and students' experiences of using designated rooms, car parks, corridors, classrooms, and offices to breastfeed and express breast milk, and their experiences related to storage of breast milk. The third theme, , reflects women's experiences of mixing their professional and personal lives, and feeling guilty for taking time out to breastfeed. The fourth theme, captures women's realisation that breastfeeding on campus requires the development of a "thick skin" and the capacity to not be offended easily.
Conclusions: Sustaining breastfeeding requires time and commitment on behalf of the mother, as well as a supportive workplace or study environment. Transforming university campuses into breastfeeding friendly environments is long overdue and requires organisational commitment to achieve genuine reform.
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