A Needs Assessment for Breastfeeding Students in Higher Education in the State of Kansas
University of Kansas
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In the United States, breastfeeding rates continue to rise, however, they remain below the nationally targeted goals (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). The need to provide expressed breastmilk during periods of separation from an infant due to employment or school attendance can be a barrier to successful breastfeeding. Students and post-doctoral students who breastfed during their academic programs have few legal protections in the academic setting and limited research has exclusively focused on unique demographics of this population. The purpose of this needs assessment project was to assess the barriers to continued breastfeeding in the higher education setting, to determine the policies and accommodations for breastfeeding students among the Board of Regents facilities in the state of Kansas, and to provide recommendations to promote and facilitate breastfeeding among the student population in the academic setting. An online questionnaire was voluntarily completed by 16 representatives of the 32 accredited higher education facilities in Kansas. Data analysis focused on describing the following areas: lactation policies for students, dedicated lactation facilities and amenities, campus on-site lactation support, and staff and student education. Results demonstrated that most of the schools did not have a written lactation policy; however, nearly every school had dedicated lactation space(s) available for students to express breastmilk. Results regarding the types of education provided to staff and students, available lactation accommodations, and future lactation space and policy planning varied among facilities. The results from this project were consistent with other studies demonstrating that educational institutions are improving lactation accommodations for students; however, there is significant variation in planning and implementation of these services. A summary and recommendations were provided to facilities at the completion of the project.
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