Date of Defense:
April 6, 2011
Objective: To analyze the association between (a) healthcare professionals’ (HCPs) support for breastfeeding in the hospital post-partum and (b) mothers’ perception of the prenatal opinions of their obstetricians and pediatricians about infant feeding and exclusive breastfeeding at the end of neonatal period, and at 3 and 6 months.
Methods: The sample consisted of 4902 women from the Infant Feeding Practices Study II (2005-2007), a longitudinal study of women in the United States. A scale based on the BabyFriendly Hospital Initiative was constructed to indicate HCPs’ support. Analyses included chi-squared tests, Fisher’s exact tests, and logistic regression models.
Results: There is a significant association between HCPs’ support in the hospital postpartum and exclusive breastfeeding at the end of neonatal period and 3 months (adjusted OR: 3.18 and 2.59, respectively). If obstetricians and pediatricians prenatally stated that they favored breastfeeding, then mothers were significantly more likely to exclusively breastfeed their infants at the end of neonatal period and 3 months (obstetricians: adjusted OR = 4.30 and 11.38, respectively; pediatricians: adjusted OR = 11.69 and 1.20 (not significant), respectively). These effects were no longer meaningful at the end of 6 months.
Conclusion: HCPs’ support has a positive effect on exclusive breastfeeding until 3 months of age even after adjusting for potential confounders. Prenatal opinions of obstetricians can positively influence exclusive breastfeeding until 3 months of age. Likewise, pediatricians’ opinions have similar effect during the neonatal period.