Accumulating data suggest the anti-obesity benefits of breastfeeding are, in part, mediated through interactions with the human microbiome. Despite these observations, recruitment of breastfeeding mothers in longitudinal clinical microbiome studies remains a significant challenge. The goal of this study is characterize the facilitators and barriers for participation of breastfeeding mothers’ into longitudinal clinical microbiome studies.


We recruited a total of 40 mothers (20 pregnant and 20 breastfeeding) to complete in-depth semi-structured interviews at the University of Florida Clinical and Translational Science Institute. Additionally, mothers were asked to use self-administered microbiome collection kits and complete questionnaires related to health history, infant feeding practices, and physical activity. Informative interviews were designed to identify women’s understanding, motivations and barriers surrounding longitudinal clinical research participation and their preferences for providing non-invasive biological samples.


Our analysis indicates that 1) barriers for participating in research include convenience, confidentiality and child protection; 2) factors motivating participation in research include general interest in breastfeeding, schedule, and perceived research relevance; 3) participant recruitment should consider social media and 4) biological sample collection should include adequate instructions and drop-off convenience.


The results of this study provide valuable theoretical and practical insights on how to effectively recruit and retain pregnant and breastfeeding women into longitudinal microbiome studies.