Variation in breastfeeding behaviours, perceptions, and experiences by race/ethnicity among a low-income statewide sample of Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) participants in the United States

Matern Child Nutr. 2008 Apr;4(2):95-105. doi: 10.1111/j.1740-8709.2007.00105.x.

Abstract

The objective of this study was to examine how breastfeeding behaviours, perceptions and experiences vary by race/ethnicity among a low-income sample in the USA. Bilingual interviewers conducted a cross-sectional telephone survey of 767 white, African American or Hispanic mothers who received the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Rates of breastfeeding initiation and duration varied by race/ethnicity. Hispanic mothers were more likely to initiate breastfeeding than African American (91% vs. 65%) or white (61%) mothers. Hispanic mothers breastfed longer (mean 5 months) than either African American (mean 3.5 months) or white (mean 3 months) mothers. The most common reason for not breastfeeding was fear of difficulty or pain during breastfeeding (35.6%). Among mothers who did not initiate breastfeeding, African American and white mothers were more likely than Hispanic mothers to report perceptions of breastfeeding difficulty or pain, and Hispanic mothers were more likely than African American and white mothers to report perceptions of infant breast rejection. The most common reason reported for breastfeeding cessation was not having enough milk (23.4%). Hispanic mothers were more likely than African American and white mothers to cite perceptions of milk insufficiency and infant breast refusal than concerns regarding breast discomfort or pain. African American mothers were more likely than white mothers to report cessation to return to work. In conclusion, while breastfeeding initiation rates approach Healthy People 2010 goals, breastfeeding duration remains far below these goals. Race/ethnicity differences in experiences related to breastfeeding cessation suggest that culturally sensitive breastfeeding interventions are necessary.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Breast Feeding* / epidemiology
  • Breast Feeding* / ethnology
  • Breast Feeding* / psychology
  • Ethnic Groups
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / psychology*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hispanic Americans / psychology*
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Maryland / epidemiology
  • Perception
  • Public Assistance
  • Time Factors