New mothers’ breastfeeding expectations, challenges, and the return to employment
Institutional Review Board approval for the study was granted by Augustana College, and all participants provided individual informed consent. The prenatal interview addressed what participants, in their second or third trimester of pregnancy, envisioned for their new lives as mothers and how they planned to integrate household/unpaid labor and paid employment, with mothering. Often as early breastfeeding difficulties resolve, employed mothers find themselves negotiating new nursing challenges as they return to their jobs. The demands of breastfeeding articulated by participants underscore how new mothers who return to work must negotiate a fundamentally different approach to breastfeeding, which involves expressing milk while away from their baby. Research across varied populations is especially needed to further explore when, whether, and how the culturally unmapped qualities and structural pressures that is highlighted may be evident, absent, or figuring differently within the expectations and experiences of more socio-demographically and geographically diverse populations.