Psychosocial predictors of breastfeeding initiation and duration

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Meagan Eve Mathews (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Esther Leerkes

Abstract: This study examined maternal psychosocial characteristics, infant negative affect, and social support as predictors of breastfeeding initiation and duration while accounting for sociodemographic covariates. Prenatally, 237 women completed measures of coherence of mind with respect to attachment, emotion regulation, beliefs and emotions related to infant crying, and satisfaction with social support. At six months, social support and infant negative affect were assessed via mother report. Breastfeeding was assessed at six months and one year postpartum via mother report. Results indicated that attachment coherence of mind positively correlated with breastfeeding attempts, initiation and duration; empathy in response to infant cries positively correlated with initiation; and anger in reaction to infant cries and controlling beliefs about infant cries were linked with shorter breastfeeding duration. Social support from partners at six months positively correlated with duration of breastfeeding; and unexpectedly, prenatal social support inversely related to breastfeeding initiation. An interaction was observed between infant negative affect and cry beliefs related to spoiling, such that negative affective infants with mothers who did not endorse the belief that responding to cries spoils infants, were breastfed for a longer amount of time than those with mothers who strongly believed responding to cries spoils infants. As a whole, these psychosocial and contextual variables predicted relatively little additional variation over and above the covariates. However, some of the findings are novel when compared to the prior literature and may have applied implications. These issues and more nuanced approaches to studying the predictors of breastfeeding are discussed.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2013
Adult attachment, Breastfeeding, Crying, Maternal psychosocial characteristics, Negative affect, Social support
Mother and infant $x Psychological aspects
Breastfeeding $x Psychological aspects

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