Maternal attitudes towards breast and bottle feeding in a regional community

Jacqueline Koke

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Jacqueline Koke
Fourth Year Medicine (Graduate)
University of Wollongong

Jacqueline completed her undergraduate degree at Sydney University in B.Applied Science (Leisure and Health). She has a particular interest in women’s health and health education.

Background: Based on research demonstrating the many benefits of breastfeeding, it is recommended babies be exclusively breastfed from birth to at least six months of age. However, despite these known benefits, many women choose to bottle feed or cease breastfeeding before six months. Aim: To survey women in order to determine factors associated with their attitudes and choice to bottle feed or breastfeed their children, with the aim of identifying areas to target education to improve breastfeeding rates or duration. Methods: Anonymous surveys were distributed to a convenience sample of 106 adult female patients selected from a suburban general practice. MS-Excel and Epi Info 3.5.3 software package were used for data management. Chi square was used for analysis. Results: The response rate was 94.3% (n=100). There were trends suggesting an association between income and the respondents’ choices (p=0.26); and income and the respondents’ mothers’ choices (p=0.51). Respondents were significantly more likely to choose the feeding method their own mother used (p=0.01). Discussion: Income and respondents’ mothers’ choice regarding breastfeeding were identified as factors possibly associated with respondents’ attitudes and choice. Hence awareness of individual family dynamics may assist in targeting prenatal education to help increase rates of breastfeeding. A large proportion of respondents chose to bottle feed and also believed that the bottle was as good as breastfeeding. The needs of this group also need to be met. Conclusion: To increase breastfeeding rates, individualised prenatal education as well as supporting women through their breastfeeding problems is a likely requirement.