Familial sources of encouragement and breast-feeding practices among women participating in the US Special Supplemental Nutrition Programme for Women, Infants and Children

Public Health Nutr. 2023 Sep;26(9):1871-1877. doi: 10.1017/S1368980023000666. Epub 2023 Apr 5.


Objective: To explore how sources of familial encouragement are associated with breast-feeding initiation and duration among a national sample participating in the US Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

Design: This study uses the 2013-2015 WIC Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study 2 (WIC ITFPS-2) data. Breast-feeding initiation was measured at the first month, while duration was derived from a composite of the first 13 months. The analysis used logistic and linear regression to explore the association between encouragement sources and breast-feeding outcomes.

Setting: A nationally representative sample of WIC participants in the USA.

Participants: WIC participants who completed the 13-month interview of the WIC ITFPS-2 (n 2807).

Results: Encouragement was significantly associated with both initiation and duration. Each source of encouragement was associated with a 3·2 (95 % CI 2·8, 3·8) increase in odds of initiating breast-feeding in the unadjusted model and 3·0 (95 % CI 2·5, 3·6) increased odds, controlling for age, education, nativity, poverty status, race and ethnicity (<0·0001). When predicting log duration, each percent increase in source of encouragement was associated with an increasing duration on average by 0·003 d (95 % CI 0·2, 0·3, <0·0001). When controls were added, it was associated with an increase of an average of 0·002 d (95 % CI 0·2, 0·3) per percent increase in encouragement source (<0·0001).

Conclusions: Women who receive encouragement appear to be more likely to breastfeed. Additional work is needed to explore sources of encouragement and how to include them in intervention work.

Keywords: Breast-feeding; Breast-feeding duration; Family; Infant feeding; Maternal Health; Social support; WIC.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding
  • Educational Status
  • Family Support
  • Female
  • Food Assistance*
  • Food Services*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Poverty