Positive parental attitudes towards infant feeding are an important component in child nutritional health. Previous studies have found that participants in the Special Supplemental Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program have lower breastfeeding rates and attitudes that do not contribute towards healthy infant feeding in spite of breastfeeding and nutrition education programs targeting WIC participants. The objective of this study was to assess the frequency of exclusive breastfeeding in the early postpartum period and maternal attitudes towards breastfeeding in a population of mothers at two San Francisco hospitals and in relation to WIC participation status.
We interviewed women who had recently delivered a healthy newborn using a structured interview.
A high percentage (79.8%) of our sample was exclusively breastfeeding at 1–4 days postpartum. We did not find any significant differences in rates of formula or mixed feeding by WIC participant status. Independent risk factors for mixed or formula feeding at 1–3 days postpartum included Asian/Pacific Islander ethnicity (odds ratio [OR] 2.90, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.17–7.19). Being a college graduate was associated with a decreased risk of formula/mixed feeding (OR 0.28, 95% CI 0.10–0.79). We also found that thinking breastfeeding was physically painful and uncomfortable was independently associated with not breastfeeding (OR 1.41, 95% CI 1.06–1.89).
Future studies should be conducted with Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders to better understand the lower rates of exclusive breastfeeding in this population and should address negative attitudes towards breastfeeding such as the idea that breastfeeding is painful or uncomfortable.