Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Medical recommendations and hospital practices have been reported to play major roles in determining how a woman chooses to feed her infant. Studies have shown that physicians often do not provide encouragement to women to breast-feed or information to manage breast-feeding successfully. Hospitals have been shown to have routines which are not conducive to lactation. A mail questionnaire was sent to randomly selected Louisiana family practitioners, general practitioners, obstetricians and pediatricians to determine their breast-feeding recommendations. A different questionnaire was mailed to Louisiana hospitals providing maternity services to determine the breast-feeding practices in these hospitals. Although most Louisiana physicians considered breast-feeding to be very important and were aware of the many benefits of breast milk for infants, many physicians reported that they discouraged mothers from breast-feeding for reasons not usually considered to be contraindications. Those physicians whose own children had been breast-fed were found to regard breast-feeding as more important than those who did not have breast-fed children, and were more likely to recommend to their own patients those practices currently being recommended by breast-feeding authorities. Louisiana physicians graduating before 1970 were found to be less likely to consider certain conditions as contraindications to breast-feeding than those graduating after 1970. The location of a physician's practice seemed to have little effect on his breast-feeding recommendations. From the survey response rate, Louisiana hospitals appeared to be very interested in the subject of breast-feeding but the hospitals also reported that breast-feeding was only an occasional practice by maternity patients. Most of the hospitals agreed that staff members were supportive of breast-feeding patients but were undecided about whether or not hospital policy endorsed breast-feeding as the best method of infant feeding or if staff actively encouraged patients to choose breast-feeding.