Breastfeeding Self-Efficacy as a Predictor of Breastfeeding Intensity Among African American Women in the Mama Bear Feasibility Trial

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Breastfeed Med


Background: Improving breastfeeding rates among African American (AA) families is an important public health goal. Breastfeeding self-efficacy, a known predictor of breastfeeding behavior, has seldom been assessed among AAs, in relation to breastfeeding intensity (% breastfeeding relative to total feeding) or as a protective factor in combating the historical breastfeeding challenges faced by people of color. We aimed to test the association between breastfeeding self-efficacy assessed during pregnancy and breastfeeding intensity assessed in the early postpartum period.

Methods: This was a secondary data analysis of a randomized controlled feasibility trial of breastfeeding support and postpartum weight management. AA women were recruited during pregnancy from a prenatal clinic in Detroit, MI. Data presented, in this study, were collected at enrollment (n = 50) and ∼6 weeks postpartum (n = 31). Linear regression models were used, adjusting for potential confounders.

Results: There were no differences in breastfeeding intensity by study arm; data are from all women with complete data on targeted variables. Age ranged from 18 to 43 years, 52% were Women, Infant's, and Children program enrollees, and 62% had ≥ some college. Breastfeeding self-efficacy during pregnancy was a significant predictor of breastfeeding intensity in the early postpartum period (β = 0.125, p < 0.05) with only slight attenuation in the fully adjusted model (β = 0.123, p < 0.05).

Implications for Practice: Our results confirm that self-efficacy is an important predictor of breastfeeding practice. Furthermore, the simple act of assessing breastfeeding self-efficacy permits an opportunity for women to reflect on breastfeeding possibilities, and can inform individualized confidence-building interventions to improve the disproportionately low breastfeeding rates among AAs.

Clinical Trial Registration number NCT03480048.

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ePub ahead of print