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Midwifery. 1998 Dec;14(4):242-7.

What influences the uptake and early cessation of breast feeding?

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  • 1Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, Medical School, University of Birmingham, UK.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To examine obstetric, maternal and social factors associated with the uptake and early cessation of breast feeding and women's reasons for altering from breast to bottle feeding.

DESIGN:

Women who responded to a postal questionnaire on long-term postpartum health were contacted and asked to participate in a home-based interview. In addition to health problems, the interview obtained information on baby feeding and a number of social factors. Women were also asked to complete the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). Obstetric and maternal data were obtained from maternity records.

SETTING:

Deliveries from a large maternity hospital in Birmingham.

PARTICIPANTS:

906 women were interviewed at a mean of 45 weeks after delivery.

FINDINGS:

63% of the women said they had breast fed, but 40% of these stopped within three months of delivery. Many of the women gave physical problems with lactation as reasons for stopping. The factors found to be predictors of early cessation were: return to work within three months of birth; regular childcare support from other female relatives, and a high EPDS score. Non-initiation of breast feeding was predicted by a different set of factors: multiparity; general anaesthetic (GA); and unmarried status.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION:

Despite evidence of the benefits of breast feeding, this remains an unacceptable long-term option for many women, and for over one-third it is never attempted. Factors within the woman's social environment were found to influence early cessation. Women who had a GA during or immediately following labour and delivery were less likely to initiate breast feeding.

IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE:

If breast-feeding incidence and duration are to increase, more attention should be paid to establishing early, successful breast feeding and countering the negative influences of factors within the social environment.

PMID:
10076319
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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