Breastfeeding plans, intentions, and interactions



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Texas Tech University


This study explores the relationships of demographics and psychosocial factors on breast feeding plans, intentions and mother-infant interactions. Breastfeeding provides many benefits to both mother and child, therefore, understanding the influences on breastfeeding decisions is important for understanding the breastfeeding relationship. This thesis explores the demographic influences on a woman’s breastfeeding practices and plans, and further explores the influence of psychosocial factors on intended breastfeeding duration. Women (N=160) were recruited within the first 48 hours post-partum from a county hospital in the southwestern United States. First, the relationship of demographics and psychosocial factors and their impact on a woman’s breastfeeding experience in the hospital, and her long term breastfeeding plans are explored. This relationship is explored with a path analysis using AMOS software (Arbuckle, 2006). Demographics variables including socio-economic status, maternal age, maternal education level, marital status, and ethnicity are factors used in this model. Psychosocial variables in the model include maternal depressive features and maternal-fetal attachment. Socio-economic status, maternal age, education, and marital status are related. In addition, women with higher socio-economic status and married have higher rates of exclusive breastfeeding following delivery. Women planning to return to work planned to breastfeed for fewer months, whereas women exclusively breastfeeding in the hospital planned to breastfeed for more months than women who provided formula supplementation in the hospital. Women with lower education level experienced more depressive features early postpartum. Depressive features did not impact feeding plans or intentions. A multiple group comparison was performed in order to compare marital status and ethnicity. No group differences were found in either comparison model. However, when comparing the married vs. unmarried model maternal-fetal attachment negatively predicted a woman’s plan to return to work. Psychosocial factors were not found to influence breastfeeding practices. In a 10-14 day follow-up study, using a sub-sample (N=45), the relationship of depressive features at 10-14 days and breastfeeding self-efficacy on duration of a videotaped feeding was explored. Women were interviewed and videotaped breastfeeding when the infant was 10-14 days old. A partial correlation was used to examine this relationship while controlling for demographic factors. Depressive features and breastfeeding self-efficacy do not have a relationship with the length of time a woman is available to breastfeed her infant or the amount of time an infant actually breastfeeds. Depressive features and breastfeeding self-efficacy do have a significant relationship. Women with higher depressive features were found to have lower breastfeeding self-efficacy.