Breastfeeding and contraception counseling: a qualitative study

Marit Pearlman Shapiro, Karina Avila, Erika E. Levi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: The objectives of this qualitative study were to better understand women’s experiences regarding contraceptive choice, breastfeeding intentions and the relationship between the two. Women are routinely presented with counseling on breastfeeding and contraception throughout their prenatal and postpartum care, but little is published on patients’ own priorities, desires and experiences of this peripartum counseling. This article aims to address this gap in the literature. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with patients in the immediate postpartum period. The interview guide explored: 1) timing and content of contraceptive counseling; 2) breastfeeding goals and expectations; 3) reasons for contraceptive choices; and 4) recommendations for counseling. Interview transcripts were coded to identify themes and analyzed. Results: Twenty interviews were conducted. The participants were reflective of our patient population in the Bronx, with ninety percent using Medicaid for insurance and fifteen percent concerned about food security in the past month, well-validated questions reflective of poverty and socioeconomic status. Three themes emerged from the interviews: (1) using contraception was described as a selfish decision by the mother without benefit to the newborn; (2) women felt pressure to breastfeed and saw the inability to breastfeed as a personal failure; and (3) medical providers were viewed as more trustworthy when it came to information regarding breastfeeding as opposed to contraceptive options, where decisions relied on anecdotes from friends or family. Conclusions: Most decision-making regarding breastfeeding and contraception relied on the personal experiences of the participants and their friends and family. A clear need for support for women who are unable to breastfeed and education about the benefits of contraception for the newborn was identified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number154
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Breastfeeding
  • Contraception counseling
  • Postpartum
  • Reproductive justice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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