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New Study Alert: Wits Making Visible the Breastfeeding Experiences of Wits Staff and Students


One of the main reasons women give up breastfeeding globally is because they need to return to work or school. While supporting breastfeeding is good for public health, it also contributes to gender equity and transformation. So, how does Wits support female employees and students who wish to continue breastfeeding? This is the main research question of a recently approved study entitled “Institutional Breastfeeding Support at Wits: An Exploratory Qualitative Study”.

The University Wellness Forum asked the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) Wellness Committee to lead a study to respond to concerns raised at the Forum about breastfeeding support for students and staff. The study, designed by the Committee’s Breastfeeding Working Group, is being led by investigators from Public Health, Community Paediatrics and Physiotherapy. The Faculty’s Research Office provided Seed Funding of approximately 70K to kick-start the process in 2022, with investigators seeking additional funding to extend this university-wide study.

The study is using qualitative interviews to explore breastfeeding environment(s) at Wits. Interviews with senior managers and decision-makers at Wits are exploring legal and policy considerations, infrastructure, social and emotional support and relationships the university has with the formula industry. The study is also creating an anonymous space for staff and students to share their breastfeeding experiences.

Data collection is ongoing. All staff (academic, administrative and support) are invited to participate along with undergraduate and postgraduate students. To be eligible, you must have given birth over the past five years while employed and/or studying at Wits and must have at least initiated breastfeeding. To increase inclusivity, we are sharing study details widely.