Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


James Rohrer


Breastfeeding offers numerous health benefits to both the mother and infant, yet it is not routinely practiced due to a number of internal and external factors that influence the mother's decision. Guided by the social ecological model, the purpose of this study was to examine the effect of required reporting to The Joint Commission on perinatal measures, a proxy measure for maternity care practices, and those professional effects on breastfeeding initiation and exclusivity for first-time mothers. The hypotheses were that the mandatory reporting, and thus an increase in maternity care practices, would increase the initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding on discharge in first-time mothers. This study was a quantitative retrospective study design that included data collected from the medical records of 1,000 mothers from Southeast Alabama Medical Center who gave birth between 2013 and 2014. The multiple logistic regression analysis indicated that the odds ratio for initiation of breastfeeding was greater among first-time mothers after implementation of mandatory reporting measures (OR = 2.07; p = 0.0007); however, the odds for exclusive breastfeeding on discharge did not show a statistically significant change (OR = 0.94; p = 0.7507). These findings may inform the work of healthcare providers at hospitals, community centers, and public health workers, guiding their maternity care practices to increase the number of first-time mothers who will breastfeed for longer periods of time and improving children's health outcomes.