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Breast-feeding initiation rates have increased in the USA; however, maintenance of breast-feeding for recommended durations is low. The objective of the present study was to identify factors that may facilitate breast-feeding for longer durations among first-time mothers, including physiological and social experiences and changes in maternal perceptions.
Survival analysis and linear regression methods were used to explore the relationship between experiences and breast-feeding duration, and the possible mediating effect of changes in maternal perceptions.
Secondary data from the Infant Feeding Practices Study II, conducted in the USA between 2005 and 2007.
Data from 762 first-time mothers who ever breast-fed were analysed.
Experiencing trouble with baby’s latch, problems with milk flow/supply and painful breast-feeding were significantly associated with breast-feeding duration (64, 26 and 36 % shorter duration, respectively). Meanwhile, positive changes in perception with respect to breast-feeding self-efficacy, opinion about infant feeding and belief about breast milk were associated with 16–27 % longer duration. Furthermore, changes in perception were observed to partially mediate the impact of physiological experiences on breast-feeding duration.
Perceptions of breast-feeding self-efficacy, beliefs and opinions can change over time and are influenced by breast-feeding experiences. The combined effect of experience and perception plays a key role in influencing breast-feeding duration. Future research should explore interventions to maintain or improve these perceptions while accounting for physiological experiences to support breast-feeding for recommended durations among first-time mothers.
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