Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

First Advisor

Christine Stauber PhD

Second Advisor

Sheryl Strasser PhD

Abstract

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Breastfeeding is important to children’s health and development in early years. It may also have implications for health in later life as it has been associated with some chronic non-communicable diseases including hypertension, obesity, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, and cardiovascular diseases. The prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding in the United States is estimated to be approximately 44% for a 3-month period and 24% for a 6-month period (CDC, 2008). There are many factors that influence whether or not a mother will be successful in exclusive breastfeeding, and one factor that has been identified with the success of this is delivery method.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to determine whether or not infant delivery method is associated with exclusive breastfeeding. Additionally, other environmental and personal factors examined included: intent, infant-to-breast within two hours of birth, as well as maternal race, parity, and age.

METHODOLOGY: Data were obtained from the Wellstar Kennestone Hospital Lactation Department through an agreement. The information was extracted from the patients’ medical charts between March, 2011 and March, 2013 by nurses in the lactation department. Descriptive statistical tests and univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted to examine associations between delivery method and exclusive breastfeeding with analytic consideration given to significant environmental and personal maternal characteristics.

RESULTS: There was a statistically significant association between delivery method and exclusive breastfeeding (OR= .510, 95% CI= .375-.695) after adjusting for intent, whether or not baby was put to the breast within two hours of birth, maternal race, parity, and maternal age. Mothers who delivered via cesarean section were .510 times as likely to be exclusively breastfeeding at the time of hospital discharge when compared to mothers who delivered vaginally.

CONCLUSION: The results of this study indicate that there is a significant association between delivery method and exclusive breastfeeding, in that vaginally delivered babies were more likely to be exclusively breastfeeding compared to babies delivered via cesarean section. This result is consistent with other research, and it further supports recommendations for healthcare professionals to promote breastfeeding for the first six months of life. As aligned with the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative and WHO goals, exclusive breastfeeding should be thoroughly encouraged in addition to promoting natural (vaginal) birth options whenever possible. Further research regarding post-partum factors for both types of delivery that can lead to higher rates of exclusive breastfeeding is warranted.

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