Background: Using a multi-methods approach we aimed to explore the relative prediction of demographic, socioeconomic and modifiable predictors from the Theory of Planned behaviour (TPB) in explaining feeding intentions amongst a multi-ethnic sample.
Methods: 476 women completed a questionnaire at 28 weeks gestation. They were grouped into breastfeeding (N = 258), mixed-feeding (N = 50), bottle-feeding (N = 88) intenders, or a no clear intention (N = 88). Multinomial adjusted regressions explored the influence of modifiable TPB factors, along with ethnicity and socioeconomic status in predicting group membership. Free-text responses allowed women to elaborate on reasons behind their intention.
Results: TPB factors were significant predictors of feeding intention. Women with high intention to breastfeed were less likely to report high attitudes in any other feeding alternative. Bottle-feeding intenders reported poorer self-efficacy regarding breastfeeding compared to breastfeeding intenders (prevalence rate ratio, PRR = 0.10). Mixed and bottle-feeding intenders reported greater self-efficacy for mixed-feeding (PRR = 1.80, 5.50 respectively). Descriptive norms for mixed (PRR = 13.77) and bottle-feeding (PRR = 10.68) were predictive of mixed-feeding intention. Reasons for breastfeeding intentions related to health considerations, whilst bottle-feeding reasons related to convenience. Mixed-feeding intenders reported both breast and bottle-related factors.
Conclusions: Understanding modifiable predictors related to feeding intentions like TPB factors can help professionals target appropriate interventions to encourage breastfeeding.