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What are LGBTQI+ parental experiences of healthcare support and decision-making regarding infant feeding options? A grounded theory study



To explore LGBTQI+ parental experiences regarding their interactions with healthcare professionals as a resource for feeding options during the prenatal-to-neonatal period.

Study design

This single-center, interview-based qualitative study of LGBTQI+ parents utilized grounded theory to identify and verify emergent themes and subthemes. We developed a conceptual framework to illustrate relationships among themes and subthemes, as well as opportunities for healthcare professionals and families to improve LGBTQI+ parental support.


Thematic saturation was attained after interviewing 21 parents from 12 families. Analyses revealed four main themes representing opportunities for improvement: education, continuity of care, parental engagement and open communication. Personal and interpersonal factors influenced parental experiences and decisions, which shaped ultimate feeding outcomes.


LGBTQI+ parents revealed challenges of establishing feeding practices that best aligned with their values and goals. Recognizing these factors can help healthcare professionals improve their counseling, engagement and support of LGBTQI+ parents.

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Fig. 1: Preexisting personal factors (black rounded box) shape parental feeding expectations leading into the pregnancy and newborn period.

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This study was supported in part by the University of Rochester Clinical and Translational Science Award (UL1 TR002001) from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. The authors would like to thank Casey Rosen-Carole, MD, and John Cullen, PhD, for their input on preliminary study materials and the LGBTQI+ family for help piloting our interview guide.

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JJ and RD conducted the study design, interviews, data analyses, and manuscript preparation. LM and MC were involved in data analyses and manuscript preparation. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jason R. Jackson.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Jackson, J.R., Moreno, L., Carmen, M. et al. What are LGBTQI+ parental experiences of healthcare support and decision-making regarding infant feeding options? A grounded theory study. J Perinatol 42, 1083–1090 (2022).

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