In the 2009 National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking, a guideline specific to lactating women was included. For the first time the effect of alcohol at this important developmental stage was nationally and internationally acknowledged.
To determine the degree to which maternal health practitioners adopted an Australian national policy guideline (Guideline 4B) on alcohol and breastfeeding into their everyday health practice and the factors associated with adoption.
Materials and Methods
A convenience sample of participants completed an online survey based on the Nursing Practice Questionnaire (NPQ) to elicit measures of knowledge, awareness and practice implementation.
In total, 240 maternal health practitioners completed the online survey. All statistical analyses clearly indicated a higher adoption of Guideline 4B by the child health nurses, midwives and general practitioners (GPs) than was the case for paediatricians and obstetricians. A mean adoption score (range 0–4) indicative of ‘some’ practice implementation of 3.13, 3.04 and 2.73 was obtained by child health nurses, midwives and GPs, respectively. Obstetricians and paediatricians scored a mean of 2.0, indicating they remain to be ‘persuaded about the practice’ of incorporating discussions around alcohol and breastfeeding into their practice.
Despite the existence of a national alcohol guideline for breastfeeding women, maternal health practitioners are not incorporating this advice into their everyday practice with lactating women. Opportunities exist for all maternal practitioners along the reproductive continuum to protect long‐term breastfeeding duration using an evidence‐based harm minimisation approach to alcohol consumption.