Breastfeeding Knowledge, Breastfeeding Confidence, and Infant Feeding Plans: Effects on Actual Feeding Practices

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ObjectiveTo explore relationships among breastfeeding knowledge, breastfeeding confidence, and infant feeding plans and their effects on feeding practices in first-time breastfeeding mothers.DesignProspective descriptive design.SettingTelephone interviews were conducted prenatally and at 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months postpartum.ParticipantsSeventy-four of 83 first-time mothers with prenatal intentions to breastfeed completed all study requirements. The majority were White (95%), between the ages of 21 and 30 years (73%), with a post–high school education (85%), and household incomes of more than 200% of the federal poverty guideline (88%).Main Outcome MeasuresBreastfeeding knowledge, breastfeeding confidence, planned infant feeding method, planned breastfeeding duration, weeks of daily human milk substitute feeding, breastfeeding duration, achievement of breastfeeding goals.ResultsBreastfeeding knowledge was strongly correlated with breastfeeding confidence (r = .262; p = .025) and actual lactation duration (r = .455; p = .0001). Compared with women planning to exclusively breastfeed their infants, those planning to combination feed planned shorter breastfeeding duration (p = .022), reported shorter actual duration (p = .004), and were less likely to meet their breastfeeding goal (p = .034). The variables maternal education, breastfeeding knowledge, and weeks of daily human milk substitute feeding were used to develop a prediction equation that correctly categorized 93% of participants who met their breastfeeding goal and 90% of those who did not.ConclusionsExpectations and the actual breastfeeding experience differed among women planning to combination feed and those planning to exclusively breastfeed. Whether a cause or consequence, daily human milk substitute feeding was associated with negative breastfeeding outcomes.

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