Objective: To examine pre- and postnatal experiential factors associated with desirable breastfeeding patterns in a nationally representative population of low-income women who prenatally enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and initiated breastfeeding. Materials and Methods: Using data from the longitudinal WIC Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study-2, multivariable, hierarchical logistic regression analyses identified prenatal and postnatal experiential factors associated with three breastfeeding patterns: (1) breastfeeding at 6 months, (2) breastfeeding at 1 year, and (3) breastfeeding at 1 year without introducing formula through age 6 months. Results: After controlling for covariates, one prenatal factor, breastfeeding intentions, and one postnatal factor, receipt of a doctor's recommendation to breastfeed, raised the odds of exhibiting the patterns analyzed. Another postnatal factor, returning to full-time employment before infant age 3 months, lowered the odds of exhibiting the patterns. Prior WIC participation significantly increased the odds of breastfeeding at 1 year, while postnatal employment before infant age 3 months significantly decreased the odds of exhibiting this pattern. Conclusions: Health care providers and those working in public health programs, including WIC, play an important role in helping low-income women mitigate shorter breastfeeding durations. Their efforts should continue focusing on bolstering women's prenatal breastfeeding intentions, reducing structural barriers to breastfeeding in the early postnatal period, particularly among those women returning to work, and connecting low-income families with WIC if they are not already enrolled in the program. This study is registered at clinicaltrials.gov as Feeding My Baby-A National WIC Study, NCT02031978.
Keywords: WIC participants; breastfeeding patterns; doctor's recommendation to breastfeed.