Date of Award

12-2007

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Teaching & Learning

Abstract

Breastmilk is designed by nature to meet the specific needs of the human species and provides all that is necessary for normal infant growth, development, and health for the first six months of life. Efforts to extend that message publicly have resulted in an increase of breastfeeding rates, yet still have not reached the goals of Healthy People 2010. This paper adds to the body of breastfeeding literature to understand why some women breastfeed and others do not by exploring some of the individual characteristics of a Midwestern university community, including their breastfeeding and bottle feeding (formula) beliefs, attitudes, and breastfeeding exposure, and then comparing that to their breastfeeding behaviors. Findings from this study will provide information to policy makers and clinicians for developing educational programs and crafting strategies to improve breastfeeding rates.

The convenience sample of 776 respondents from a Midwestern university community completed an online survey. This retrospective study determined demographic and experiential correlates of positive breastfeeding beliefs and attitudes, breastfeeding appropriateness in various settings, and respondents with children, having breastfed or not. The predictor of whether a Faculty, Staff, or Administrator (FSA) respondent breastfed at least one child was positive breastfeeding beliefs. Predictors for either the FSA or Student groups on breastfeeding attitudes were age and breastfeeding beliefs for the FSA group; age, gender, childhood breastfeeding observations, and breastfeeding beliefs for the Student group. Predictors for either the FSA or Student groups on breastfeeding beliefs were gender and breastfeeding attitude for the FSA group; education, income, and breastfeeding attitudes for the Student group. Predictors for either the FSA or Student groups on breastfeeding appropriateness in various settings were breastfeeding attitude for the FSA group; age, education, childhood breastfeeding observations, breastfeeding attitudes, and breastfeeding beliefs for the Student group.

Of the respondents who had children, 85% had breastfed, indicating a higher rate of breastfeeding than the general population. Even this breastfeeding supportive group of participants felt that breastfeeding in public places was inappropriate. In the student group, one-third to one-half thought that church, school, and restaurant were inappropriate places for breastfeeding women.

Included in

Psychology Commons

COinS