Date of Award

Spring 4-25-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Susan MacDermott

Second Advisor

Becki Cohill

Third Advisor

Erin Schwier

Medical Subject Headings

Occupational Therapy, Breast Feeding, Mothers, Postpartum Period, Maternal Health, Surveys and Questionnaires


The purpose of this capstone was to assess and explore the occupational needs of mothers who are feeding their infants in a variety of ways to then identify psychosocial and occupational barriers effecting women’s choices in feeding options for their infant through survey and interviews and opportunities for occupational therapists to become more involved in the occupation of breastfeeding.

Data analysis for this capstone project consisted of running a needs assessment in Santa Barbara County. The needs assessment consisted of written or online surveys and semi-structured in-depth interviews. Of the 95 women who filled out the hard-copy or online survey, 25 were expectant mothers and 70 were postpartum mothers with a 0-12-month-old. Of the 95 women who participated in the survey 48 consented to be contacted further by the student for an interview. Of the 48 women who consented to an interview, 21 total mothers were interviewed due to their availability. The student reviewed both the survey answers and the detailed notes from the phone interviews in order to identify mother’s common responses and organize then into themes.

This capstone project suggests that occupational therapists have a large role to play in maternal mental health and the lactation community. Occupational therapists can change the promotion of breastfeeding to benefit the population of new mothers by applying their unique perspective and knowledge of routines and role transitions associated with the occupation of breastfeeding and help enhance the psychosocial and occupational lives of mothers.


Capstone project submitted to the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Occupational Therapy.

Available for download on Wednesday, January 01, 2025