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Policies Aren’t Enough The Importance of Interpersonal Communication about Workplace Breastfeeding Support
Journal of Human Lactation
  • Jenn Anderson, South Dakota State University
  • Rebecca A. Kuehl, South Dakota State University
  • Sara A. Mehltretter Drury, Wabash College
  • Lois Tschetter, South Dakota State University
  • Mary Schwaegerl
  • Marilyn Hildreth
  • Charlotte Bachman
  • Heidi Gullickson
  • Julia Yoder
  • Jamison Lamp
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Background: Formal policies can establish guidelines and expectations for workplace breastfeeding support. However, interpersonal communication between employees and managers is the context where such policies are explained, negotiated, and implemented. As such, this article focuses on interpersonal communication about breastfeeding support in the workplace.Objective: The objective of this article is to describe interpersonal communication related to workplace breastfeeding support.Methods: We conducted 3 focus groups with 23 business representatives from a rural city in the Midwest United States. Participants were recruited through the area chamber of commerce. We analyzed the transcripts of the focus groups and derived themes related to the study objective.Results: Our analysis of responses from business representatives in the focus groups revealed 3 major themes about interpersonal communication concerning breastfeeding support in the workplace: (1) interpersonal communication may be more important than written communication for enacting breastfeeding support, (2) multiple factors (age, sex, and power dynamics) complicate the interpersonal communication required to enact breastfeeding support in local businesses, and (3) positive interpersonal communication strategies may improve the success of workplace breastfeeding support. Conclusion: Interpersonal communication between employees and managers is where the specifics of workplace breastfeeding support (eg, policies) are determined and applied. Interpersonal communication about breastfeeding can be challenging due to issues such as age, sex, and power dynamics. However, positive and open interpersonal communication can enhance workplace breastfeeding support.
DOI of Published Version
Sage Journals
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Citation Information
Jenn Anderson, Rebecca A. Kuehl, Sara A. Mehltretter Drury, Lois Tschetter, et al.. "Policies Aren’t Enough The Importance of Interpersonal Communication about Workplace Breastfeeding Support" Journal of Human Lactation Vol. 31 Iss. 2 (2015) p. 260 - 266
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