Workplace support and breastfeeding duration: The mediating effect of breastfeeding intention and self-efficacy

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BackgroundGiven the large proportion of mothers in the United States work force, understanding the implications of workplace support on breastfeeding outcomes is an important public health priority. The current study investigates if (a) workplace support directly influences the working mothers’ breastfeeding intention, self-efficacy, and duration, and (b) workplace support indirectly influences breastfeeding duration through the mediating effect of breastfeeding intention and self-efficacy.MethodsData from the longitudinal Infant Feeding Practices Survey II were analyzed. The main predictor variable, workplace support, was based on a Likert scale from “not at all supportive” to “very supportive.” Both mediators, exclusive breastfeeding intention and self-efficacy, were dichotomized (yes; no) while the study outcome, breastfeeding duration, was continuous. Structural equation modeling was used to obtain direct and indirect effects of breastfeeding intention and confidence in attaining breastfeeding goals.ResultsAfter adjusting for confounders, there was a statistically significant direct effect between self-efficacy, breastfeeding intention, and breastfeeding duration. A statistically significant indirect effect of workplace support on breastfeeding duration through self-efficacy in attaining breastfeeding goals was also observed. The mediation ratios of the indirect effects showed that self-efficacy in attaining breastfeeding goals accounted for 40.8% (P-value=0.032) of the total effect; however, all other mediation ratios did not show statistical significance.ConclusionsSelf-efficacy is an important predictor for breastfeeding duration. Workplaces may help bolster women's self-efficacy by providing environments that are supportive to breastfeeding working mothers. Future research is needed to identify breastfeeding policies that boost self-efficacy.

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