Objective: to assess the ability of a Breast-Feeding Self-Efficacy Scale (BSES) score measured at 1 week postpartum to predict the duration of breast-feeding in first-time mothers, and to develop a minimal set of potential confounders, including the BSES and demographic variables, for comparing the apparent effect of other influences on the duration of breast-feeding.
Design: a prospective cohort study, with primary outcome the duration of breast feeding up to 6 months postpartum.
Participants: 317 women who had given birth to their first baby (at term) in a large teaching maternity hospital in Adelaide, South Australia, during the period March to November, 2003.
Findings: the BSES at 1 week postpartum was a strong predictor of the duration of breast-feeding in these first-time mothers. Its ability to predict the duration of breast-feeding was largely independent of the other factors (intended duration of breast-feeding, mother's level of education, country of birth, housing situation, smoking status and method of delivery), which were also found to be significant predictors of breast-feeding duration.
Implications for practice: the BSES (including a new short form version) has been confirmed by our study as an important instrument for identifying women at risk of early cessation of breast-feeding. Together with other demographic variables, it should be useful for targeting limited resources to those most in need.