OBJECTIVE: To describe breastfeeding initiation among 210 urban African-American mothers with inadequate prenatal care.
METHODS: This study is a case–control study of postpartum mothers recruited from four large urban hospitals.
RESULTS: Mothers who chose to breastfeed were more educated, employed before birth, married, and using contraception postnatally. Regression model analysis controlling for demographic differences revealed that breastfeeding was significantly associated with a higher perception of severity of illness and higher confidence in the ability of health care to prevent illness. Breastfeeding mothers were less likely to reverse parent– child roles and had a lower perception of hassle from their infant’s behavior. When comparing mothers who breastfed longer than 8 weeks to those who did not breastfeed, breastfeeding mothers had high scores related to empathy toward infants on the Adult–Adolescent Parenting Inventory as well as a low perception of hassle on the Parenting Daily Hassle. The perception of existing formal or informal social support did not influence breastfeeding behavior.
CONCLUSION: Personal attributes of low-income urban mothers such as health beliefs and parental attitudes may play a role in the initiation and duration of breastfeeding. Low-income African-American mothers may be influenced in their choice to breastfeed by supportive messages from physicians and nurses delivering care to mothers and their newborns. Emphasis should be placed on the role breastfeeding can play in preventing childhood illnesses.