Sjoukje van Dellen, together with Barbara Wisse, Mark Mobach, Casper Albers, & Arie Dijkstra, published an article on lactation room quality, mothers’ satisfaction, and breast milk expression at work.
The article was published open-access and can be found here.
The challenge of combining professional work and breastfeeding is a key reason why women choose not to breastfeed or to stop breastfeeding early. We posited that having access to a high-quality lactation room at the workplace could influence working mothers’ satisfaction and perceptions related to expressing breast milk at work, which could have important longer term consequences for the duration of breastfeeding. Specifically, we aimed to (1) develop a checklist for assessing the quality of lactation rooms and (2) explore how lactation room quality affects lactating mothers’ satisfaction and perceptions. Drawing on social ecological insights, we hypothesized that the quality of lactation rooms (operationalized as any space used for expressing milk at work) would be positively related to mothers’ satisfaction with the room, perceived ease of, and perceived support for milk expression at work.
We conducted two studies. In Study 1 we developed a lactation room quality checklist (LRQC) and assessed its reliability twice, using samples of 33 lactation rooms (Study 1a) and 31 lactation rooms (Study 1b). Data were collected in the Northern part of the Netherlands (between December 2016 and April 2017). Study 2 comprised a cross-sectional survey of 511 lactating mothers, working in a variety of Dutch organizations. The mothers were recruited through the Facebook page of a popular Dutch breastfeeding website. They completed online questionnaires containing the LRQC and measures aimed at assessing their satisfaction and perceptions related to milk expression at work (in June and July 2017).
The LRQC was deemed reliable and easy to apply in practice. As predicted, we found that objectively assessed higher-quality lactation rooms were associated with increased levels of satisfaction with the lactation rooms, perceived ease of milk expression at work, and perceived support from supervisors and co-workers for expressing milk in the workplace.
The availability of a high-quality lactation room could influence mothers’ decisions regarding breast milk expression at work and the commencement and/or continuation of breastfeeding. Future studies should explore whether and how lactation room quality affects breastfeeding choices, and which aspects are most important to include in lactation rooms.