Sole use of breastfeeding is recommended during the first six months of life. The treating physician's opinion influences whether or not the patient will opt for breastfeeding. We wanted to ascertain if obstetricians-gynaecologists and obstetrics and gynaecology residents from Quebec offered counselling on breastfeeding and to examine various aspects of their disposition towards such counselling.
A questionnaire evaluating five aspects of physicians' disposition towards breastfeeding was used: practice and confidence, attitudes, training, knowledge. We emailed obstetrics and gynaecology residents from Quebec and members of the Association des obstétriciens et gynécologues du Québec who had a valid email address to invite them to complete the questionnaire, which was offered on a secured website.
Only 49% of obstetricians-gynaecologists and 35% of residents periodically offer counselling on breastfeeding. Furthermore, 56% and 35% respectively of both groups have confidence in their ability to meet the needs of breastfeeding patients, while 79% of the former and 93% of the latter believe that such counselling comes under their authority. On average, obstetricians-gynaecologists answered correctly 82% of the questions concerning theoretical knowledge. Only 16% of obstetricians-gynaecologists and 22% of residents believe they have received an "at least adequate" training on how to support breastfeeding women.
Respondents have not adequately integrated breastfeeding counselling into their practice, in spite of the fact that they had adequate theoretical knowledge on the matter and that they were convinced that such a role was important and that it came under their authority. A more practical form of training could enhance their confidence level and encourage them to integrate such counselling into the obstetrical follow-up.