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Body image concerns during pregnancy are associated with a shorter breastfeeding duration

Brown, Amy, Rance, Jaynie and Warren, Lucie ORCID: 2015. Body image concerns during pregnancy are associated with a shorter breastfeeding duration. Midwifery 31 (1) , pp. 80-89. 10.1016/j.midw.2014.06.003

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Objective Breastfeeding is affected by numerous psycho-social factors. Prenatal concerns such as embarrassment regarding public feeding and the impact of breastfeeding upon breast shape are known to lead to formula use. However, although work has explored the relationship between maternal weight and infant feeding, wider body image concerns have not been examined. The aim of the current study was to explore the association between maternal body image concerns during pregnancy upon intended and actual breastfeeding duration. Design A two stage self report questionnaire completed during pregnancy and at six months postpartum. Setting Mothers were recruited from local mother and infant groups, nurseries and online mother and infant forums. Participants One hundred and twenty eight pregnant women completed both stages. Measures Phase One: Completion of a questionnaire exploring body image during pregnancy (concerns about stretch marks, weight gain and appearance) and planned breastfeeding duration during the second/third trimester of pregnancy (body image, weight, intended duration) followed by a second questionnaire measuring actual breastfeeding duration and breastfeeding experiences. Findings Factor analysis revealed three primary body image concerns; pregnancy body image, prospective postnatal body image and dieting during pregnancy. Higher concerns on all three factors were associated with both intended and actual shorter breastfeeding duration. Amongst mothers who stopped breastfeeding before six months, those with higher body image concerns were more likely to report stopping due to embarrassment or the perceived impact upon their breast shape. The relationship was not explained by maternal weight, although a higher residual weight gain at six months was associated with a shorter breastfeeding duration. Conclusions and implications for practice Mothers who are affected negatively by changes to their body during pregnancy may be less likely to plan to or initiate breastfeeding potentially due to underlying issues such as embarrassment or perceived impact of feeding upon their appearance. The findings are important to those working with women during pregnancy and the postpartum period in understanding the impact of body image upon intention and ability to initiate and continue breastfeeding. Keywords Breastfeeding; Body image; Weight gain; Attitudes; Public feeding

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Healthcare Sciences
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Breastfeeding; body image; weight gain; attitudes; public feeding
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0266-6138
Date of Acceptance: 16 June 2014
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2022 08:14

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