Are you a breastfeeding mother at Western? Share your experiences

Baby and mother 

Western Sydney University researchers are working to improve the experiences of breastfeeding mothers on campus.

Dr Elaine Burns and her research team from the School of Nursing and Midwifery are inviting staff and students who have breastfed their babies over the past two years to take part in an online survey.(opens in a new window)

Dr Burns says returning to work or study after having a baby can pose many challenges. For breastfeeding mothers, these challenges can be amplified.

"For many women, the first day back at work or university may be the first time they have been separated from their child for any significant length of time. It can also be the first time that their child has been placed in formal care," says Dr Burns.

"This separation is difficult in any circumstance – but for breastfeeding mothers, it can lead to anxieties about how their baby is being fed in their absence, or can have physical implications for their bodies if they are still producing milk but are unable to feed."

Western Sydney University is an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality and has a range of strategies and policies to support parents.

Nursing mothers are welcome to breastfeed their babies wherever they feel comfortable on campus. The University also provides breastfeeding-friendly spaces on all campuses, for women who prefer to breastfeed in private or who require a place to express breast milk.

Dr Burns says the study will ask women to share their experiences of breastfeeding on campus. The study will also delve into women's overall experiences of combining breastfeeding and their return to work or study.

"We are hoping that staff and students will share their experiences of breastfeeding or expressing breast milk on campus, and let us know if the University is meeting their needs," says Dr Burns.

"It is only by knowing women's real-life experiences that we are in the position to assess if University policies are effective, and ascertain if additional support measures and initiatives are required."

The study has received funding from the Vice Chancellor's Gender Equality Fund, which aims to facilitate gender equality initiatives and promote workplace inclusion.

To participate in the study, access the online survey.(opens in a new window) The survey will take about 10-15 minutes to complete and is anonymous.

If you have any questions, please contact Dr Elaine Burns on: Tel: 02 9685 9818; Email:

The study has been approved by the Western Sydney University Human Research Ethics Committee (Study ref: H12272).


6 September 2017

Danielle Roddick, Senior Media Officer