2022 journal article
A qualitative study exploring teachers' beliefs regarding breastfeeding education in family and consumer sciences classrooms
INTERNATIONAL BREASTFEEDING JOURNAL, 17(1).
Abstract Background Research shows that elementary and secondary school children have considered infant feeding choices for when they become parents and are interested in learning about breastfeeding in school. Despite recommendations to include infant feeding education in secondary school classrooms, teachers’ practices and attitudes regarding this topic have been the subject of minimal research. The purpose of this study was to explore North Carolina, USA, family and consumer sciences teachers’ infant feeding education practices and their views on incorporating breastfeeding education in the curricula of family and consumer sciences classes that cover topics related to parenting and nutrition. Methods The study used a purposive sample of 19 teachers who participated in semi-structured qualitative telephone interviews exploring their attitudes and practices relating to infant feeding education. We transcribed and analyzed the interviews using the constant comparative method through the lens of the Theory of Planned Behavior by examining the participants’ attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral controls. Results Teachers had predominantly positive attitudes towards the inclusion of breastfeeding education in high school parenting, child development, and nutrition courses, citing the need to normalize breastfeeding and support students’ ability to make informed choices when they become parents. Teachers’ subjective norms included concerns about parents’ and administrators’ views on the appropriateness of the content and apprehension about negative student responses. Perceived behavioral controls included student maturity, teachers’ own experiences and comfort with infant feeding, and the view that curriculum guidelines limit content selection. Conclusions The results of this study can be used in the development and implementation of secondary school education programs that increase knowledge about infant feeding and positive attitudes towards breastfeeding for all members of the community. Teachers’ concerns need to be addressed in the implementation of these programs.