Introduction: Breast feeding is the most natural and nutritious way to encourage a baby’s optimal development and research over the past two decades clearly indicates multiple benefits to infants. Still, underprivileged, underserved, and minority women are not breastfeeding at rates that are comparable with national averages. National estimates indicate breastfeeding is initiated at much lower rates for minorities, adolescent mothers, socio-economically disadvantaged women and women who reside in rural areas.
Purpose: This study evaluated the impact of prenatal education, significant other support and demographics on breastfeeding initiation of women residing in a small rural community.
Methods: The study used a cross-sectional design that prospectively examined the breastfeeding intentions of the targeted population. A convenience sample of 41 post-partum women were recruited from a rural hospital within 48 hours of giving birth. Participants were administered a self- reporting 27-item questionnaire. Descriptive, Pearson’s rho and chi-square analysis were conducted to determine associations.
Results: Approximately 65.9% of the women reported initiating breastfeeding. Prenatal education was not statistically significant associated using chi-square analysis at p < 0.05. Based on a Likert scale ranging from 1- least supportive to 3- very supportive, breastfeeding moms report a high level of support from healthcare providers and family members with mean scores ranging from 2.44 to 2.96. Older, more educated and women who had breastfed a previous baby were more likely to breastfeed at p< 0.05. Breastfeeding was initiated at higher rates in women whose extended family were breastfed. Conclusion: Continued research aimed at increasing breastfeeding in rural communities will be useful in identifying best practices that will improve the health of mothers and infants.
Keywords: Breastfeeding, Healthcare, Rural community,
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