The Role of Social-Cognitive and Emotional Factors on Exclusive Breastfeeding Duration

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Abstract

Background:

Previous research has suggested that exclusive breastfeeding is likely to be predicted by social-cognitive variables and fear. However, there is little research assessing the role of regret and self-conscious emotions (e.g., pride and guilt) in promoting exclusive breastfeeding.

Research aim:

The primary aim of this research was to determine whether social-cognitive variables, fear, regret, and self-conscious emotions predict exclusive breastfeeding duration. The secondary aim of this research was to assess whether these factors predict infant-feeding choice (i.e., exclusively breastfed, combination fed, or generally formula fed).

Methods:

In this nonexperimental one-group self-report survey, 375 mothers rated social-cognitive variables toward breastfeeding (attitude, subjective norm, perceived control, and self-efficacy), their fear toward inadequate nutrition from breastfeeding and breastfeeding damaging their physical appearance, and the extent to which mothers may feel pride toward breastfeeding and negative self-conscious emotions (guilt and shame) and regret for not breastfeeding their infant.

Results:

Exclusive breastfeeding duration was positively predicted by self-efficacy, pride, and regret but negatively predicted by the fear toward inadequate nutrition. We also found that in contrast with exclusive breastfeeding, generally formula feeding an infant was associated with lower self-efficacy, pride, and regret but higher subjective norm and fear toward inadequate nutrition through breastfeeding.

Conclusion:

The authors argue that it is important to consider the role of self-conscious emotions and regret on exclusive breastfeeding.

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