Date of Award

Fall 8-17-2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Nutrition

First Advisor

Anita Nucci

Second Advisor

Kate Wiley

Third Advisor

Jessica Todd

Abstract

Background: Breastfeeding (BF) is widely recognized as the ideal infant feeding method with a multitude of well-known infant and maternal benefits. However, current BF rates, particularly in the southeastern United States, fail to meet current BF recommendations. BF education interventions have shown to be successful at improving BF outcomes, as well as maternal knowledge and self-efficacy. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between BF education and infant BF outcomes based upon World Health Organization recommendations, with a secondary aim of determining the impact of BF education on maternal BF knowledge and self-efficacy.

Methods: Sixty adult female clients of PeaPod Nutrition and Lactation Support in the Atlanta, Georgia area, being the primary caregiver of an infant (12 months of age or younger) completed a short, anonymous, electronic questionnaire about any BF education they received and infant feeding outcomes. Outcome measures include BF rates and exclusivity. Secondary outcome measures include maternal BF knowledge and self-efficacy. The chi-square statistic was used to evaluate any associations between BF education and outcome measures.

Results: Study participants had a median age of 34 years, 70% self-reported as Caucasian with a median income between $100,000 - $150,000, and all participants held a college

degree. Fifty-five of the 60 participants that completed the survey received BF education either during their pregnancy or in the postnatal period. The education received occurred in a variety of settings and topics, and mainly consisted of in-person/hands-on instruction, with limited virtual/telephone education. Twenty-three of the 60 respondents (38.3%) are currently BF, of which, 65.2% are exclusively BF and 52.2% have been BF for more than 6 months. No statistically significant association was found between those that received BF education and BF duration (p = .838) nor rate of exclusive BF (Fisher’s Exact Test p = .350). Of participants that are currently exclusively BF, 50% reported receiving some form of BF education. Of individuals that previously breastfed for 6 months or more, approximately 74% reported receiving some form of BF education. All 55 participants that received BF education agreed that the BF education that they received increased their knowledge of BF, with 60% strongly agreeing and most participants (90.9%) agreed that their confidence in BF improved because of their BF education, 52.7% of which strongly agreed.

Conclusion: Overall, high rates of BF and exclusive BF of infants 6 months of age and older were observed among study participants. All participants agreed that BF education improved their BF knowledge and the majority agreed that their self-efficacy improved as a result of the education that they received.

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