Association of family and health care provider opinion on infant feeding with mother's breastfeeding decision

J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014 Aug;114(8):1203-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2013.08.001. Epub 2013 Nov 5.


In the United States, about 25% of women choose not to initiate breastfeeding, yet little is known about how opinions of individuals in a woman's support network influence her decision to breastfeed. In the 2005-2007 Infant Feeding Practices Study II, women completed questionnaires from the last trimester of pregnancy until 12 months postpartum. Mothers indicated prenatally their family members' and health care providers' opinion on how newborns should be fed: breastfed only, formula fed only, breast and formula fed, or no opinion/don't know. Breastfeeding initiation was determined by asking mothers around 4 weeks postpartum (n=2,041) whether they ever breastfed. Logistic regression was used to examine the association between mothers' perception of family members' and health care providers' opinion on how to feed the infant and the initiation of breastfeeding, adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics. Nearly 14% of mothers surveyed did not initiate breastfeeding. Mothers who believed their family members or health care providers preferred breastfeeding only were least likely not to initiate breastfeeding. Never breastfeeding was significantly associated with the following perceptions: the infant's father (odds ratio [OR]=110.4; 95% CI 52.0 to 234.4) or maternal grandmother (OR=15.9; 95% CI 7.0 to 36.0) preferred only formula feeding; the infant's father (OR=3.2; 95% CI 1.7 to 5.9) or doctor (OR=2.7; 95% CI 1.2 to 6.2) preferred both breast and formula feeding; and the infant's father (OR=7.6; 95% CI 4.5 to 12.7), maternal grandmother (OR=5.4; 95% CI 2.6 to 11.0), or doctor (OR=1.9; 95% CI 1.0 to 3.7) had no opinion/didn't know their feeding preference. The prenatal opinions of family members and health care providers play an important role in a woman's breastfeeding decisions after the infant's birth.

Keywords: Breastfeeding; Initiation; Perception.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Mothers
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult