Topical Area: Maternal, Perinatal and Pediatric Nutrition
Objectives : With the rising number of parent students on university campuses, it is important to create a baby-friendly climate and provide effective support for nursing mothers. Few studies examine the awareness of student mothers’ rights and campus support for breastfeeding and pumping. This study aimed to assess the scope of awareness and intention to support breastfeeding on campus among university employees and students.
Methods : In Fall 2018, all employees and students at one university in Northern New Jersey were invited to participate in an online survey that measured attitude toward and intention to support public nursing, and awareness of nursing mothers’ right to breastfeed and pump on campus. Pearson’s r and ANOVA were used to examine attitude, awareness level, and intention relationships and the differences between genders.
Results : A total of 646 individuals (540 female, 102 male, 4 other) participated in this study. Participants consisted of 84.2% students, 15.8% employees, 20.5% parents (students comprising 44.3% of those), 23.5% Hispanic, and 68.3% having seen breastfeeding in public. Intention to support was significantly correlated with attitude toward public nursing (r=0.238, p< 0.001). A majority of participants (58.7%) were unaware of existing lactation rooms on campus. Participants expressed the lowest comfort level (1.98, 1-extremely uncomfortable, 4-extremely comfortable) seeing “nursing in public,” with no gender differences in responses, F (1, 570) =0.213, p=0.644. Females’ sum awareness of support and nursing mothers’ right was significantly higher (8.44 vs. 6.97, p=0.018) than male, but similar to other gender. A large proportion of participants were not informed of “[nursing mothers’] rights to breastfeed or pump on campus (58.5%),” that students are “allowed to be excused from class to pump [varying class hours] (54%),” and that “[professors] have to allow students to make up the work they missed while out for pumping (62.2%).”
Conclusions : A campus-wide campaign is needed to inform employees and students of professors’ role and student mothers’ right to breastfeed and pump on campus, hence creating a dynamic and functional baby-friendly campus.
Funding Sources : None