Exposure to Hospital Breastfeeding Support by Maternal Race and Ethnicity: A Pilot Study

Heather L. Sipsma, Molly R. Rabinowitz, Danielle Young, Carrie Phillipi, Ilse A. Larson, Laura R. Kair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are evidence-based practices used to improve breastfeeding outcomes, and most are to be implemented shortly after birth. Although breastfeeding is increasing in the United States, racial disparities persist. Available national samples used to examine trends in maternity care rely on maternal recall, which may be subject to error and bias. Thus, we conducted a pilot study to determine the feasibility of a large-scale study conducted during the birth hospitalization to explore patterns in practices supporting breastfeeding across maternal racial and ethnic groups. Methods: A convenience sample of 37 women with healthy, term singletons who intended to breastfeed were recruited from 2 academic medical centers (one in the Midwest and the other in the Pacific Northeast) and surveyed during their birth hospitalizations between July and November 2016. Women were asked whether they received the 7 steps that are recommended to be implemented shortly after birth (eg, encourage breastfeeding on demand). We generated descriptive statistics and conducted independent chi-square tests to determine associations between self-reported exposure to these 7 practices and race and ethnicity. Results: In this sample, 23 women (62.2%) were non-Hispanic white, 5 (13.5%) were non-Hispanic black, and 6 (16.2%) were Hispanic. Approximately 26 (70.3%) reported experiencing at least 6 of the 7 practices. Non-Hispanic white women were significantly more likely to room-in with their newborns, were less likely to receive formula, and were less likely to receive pacifiers than women of other races and ethnicities (P <.05). Furthermore, differences in exposure to practices by maternal race/ethnicity appeared more pronounced at one center than the other. Discussion: Preliminary findings suggest that some practices used to improve breastfeeding may be provided inconsistently across maternal racial and ethnic groups. Additional investigation is needed to further explore these patterns and to identify reasons for any inconsistencies in order to reduce health disparities in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Midwifery and Women's Health
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019



  • breastfeeding
  • health care disparities
  • hospitals
  • race and ethnicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery

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