Primigravida women are faced with the decision about how they will feed their infants. Many will decide to breastfeed but the motivation for this choice is unclear. While certain beliefs and worries about breastfeeding appear to predict women who will choose to breastfeed, such concepts are influenced by a combination of other values, support resources and socioeconomic background. The main goal of this research was to demonstrate how multivariate analysis can be applied to the infant-feeding decision and how it can lend a theoretical interpretation to social issues such as the initiation of breastfeeding. One hundred completely breastfeeding and 57 bottle feeding primigravida women were enrolled in the study and completed a pretested Likert-type questionnaire. Three primary predictors for the initiation of breastfeeding were identified: (1) positive maternal beliefs about breastfeeding; (2) the absence of maternal worries about breastfeeding; and (3) higher levels of maternal education. Secondary psychosocial predictors significantly associated with maternal breastfeeding beliefs included maternal beliefs in increased personal satisfaction from breastfeeding and maternal beliefs in preventive health measures. Secondary psychosocial predictors significantly related to maternal worries about breastfeeding included maternal worries about lack of psychosocial support and maternal anxiety about breastfeeding before breastfeeding began. Over half of the strength of the direct psychosocial predictors for breastfeeding initiation could be attributed to their respective groups of indirect predictors. Thus, the main contribution of this research has been to shift the emphasis of past research away from differences between groups of bottle feeders and breastfeeders to focus more precisely on the decision-making process involved in the infant feeding choice. This move toward a more theoretical framework lays the foundation for more effective clinical applications by health care providers.
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