Factors influencing Virginia WIC program participants in their decision not to breastfeed
This study was conducted to investigate why women participating in the WIC Program chose bottlefeeding rather than breastfeeding. Additionally, this investigator sought to determine the extent of prenatal education provided on the topic of breastfeeding within the health department population versus private care patients.
An anonymous survey was administered by WIC nutritionists in the state of Virginia to mothers of newborns who were bottlefeeding. A total of 152 women completed questionnaires which were analyzed. Data were subjected to Chi-square analysis to determine association between demographic variables and specific reasons identified for not choosing to breastfeed. Source and type of prenatal education on the topic of breastfeeding was also examined.
The majority of the respondents were black women under age 25 with no more than a high school education. Many of the women were not married and most received prenatal medical care at their local health departments.
Results indicated that women attending health department clinics received more prenatal education on the topic of breastfeeding than did those attending private physicians. The main reasons cited for not choosing to breastfeed were related to the perceived inconvenience of breastfeeding. This was especially true for those who had less than a high school education.
Younger women appeared to be more concerned that breast size would affect their ability to successfully breastfeed. These same women were also concerned with being able to return to school. White women were more concerned about returning to work than were blacks. Marital status, or living arrangements seemed to be related to fear of embarrassment; married women were less concerned about this than the other groups.
It is the hope of this researcher that the information gathered in this study can assist in developing education and intervention programs which may help to increase the incidence of breastfeeding among the WIC Program population.