Mothers are ceasing to breastfeed in favor of bottlefeeding in part
because of their infant’s father’s preference
, states a study published
in the November 5 issue of the Pediatrics Electronic Pages.

The study surveyed 245 women with children ages 6 months to 3 years who gave birth at a Pennsylvania medical center. The purpose of the study was to determine breastfeeding and bottlefeeding initiation rates, duration of breastfeeding, and factors associated with feeding decisions. The authors compared their findings to the Healthy People 2000 goal that 75% of mothers breastfeed into the early postpartum period and 50% continue to breastfeed until the infant is 5 to 6 months old.
Some of the study findings included
* 78% of the women stated that they made decisions about breastfeeding before pregnancy or during the first trimester;
* While in the hospital, 44.3% of the women breastfed, 46.3% bottlefed, and 8.9% used both methods;
* One-fourth of the women who breastfed while at the hospital switched to bottlefeeding when the infant was 1 month old; and
* Of the women who breastfed while at the hospital, 13% were breastfeeding when their infant was 6 months old.
The authors suggest that some of the reasons for a mother’s decision to initiate bottlefeeding included her perception of the father’s preference and her uncertainty about the quantity of milk the infant was receiving. They add that these findings support earlier studies and confirm the need for fathers’ increased involvement in discussions about what type of feeding the infant will receive, whether they take place at the doctor’s office, at prenatal classes, or in the delivery room.

A limitation of the study was its sample size. A larger sample size may have been less variable and more accurate. The authors note that because they included mothers who had children up to age 3, the mothers’ responses may have reflected current attitudes, not their attitudes during their child’s infancy.

The authors state that "education of mothers, families, especially fathers, and health care professionals regarding the benefits of breastfeeding, as well as how to overcome barriers, would have a positive impact on the number of mother choosing to breastfeed."

Arora S, McJunkin C, Wehrer J, et al. 2000. Major factors influencing breastfeeding rates: Mother’s perception of father’s attitude and milk supply. Pediatrics Electronic Pages 106(5):e67. Available at <>.