Personality may affect a new mother's decision to breastfeed

August 6, 2013, Wiley

A new analysis has found that mothers who are more extroverted and less anxious are more likely to breastfeed and to continue to breastfeed than mothers who are introverted or anxious. Published early online in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, the study indicates that new mothers with certain personalities may need additional support and education to help them feel confident, self assured, and knowledgeable about breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is important for the health of both mother and baby: breastfed babies have lower levels of infections and allergies and are less likely to be , while mothers who breastfeed are less likely to develop certain cancers.

Many factors can affect whether a mother breastfeeds, but mothers who have lots of support, feel confident, and know how to overcome problems are more likely to breastfeed for longer. Understanding what makes a mother feel confident and supported is important to increasing rates. Many studies have looked at the role of mothers' education, age, and relationships, but the link between breastfeeding and a mother's personality has not been explored.

To investigate, Amy Brown, PhD, of Swansea University in the United Kingdom, surveyed 602 mothers with infants aged six to 12 months old. The questionnaire examined the mothers' personalities, how long they breastfed, and their attitudes and experiences of breastfeeding. Data were collected between March and June 2009.

Mothers who indicated that they were extroverts and were emotionally stable were significantly more likely to initiate and continue breastfeeding for a longer duration. Mothers who were introverted or anxious were more likely to use formula milk or only breastfeed for a short while.

Dr. Brown believes that the findings can be explained by the link between mothers' personalities and their attitudes and experiences of breastfeeding. Mothers who were introverted felt more self-conscious about breastfeeding in front of others and were more likely to formula feed because other people wanted them to. Meanwhile mothers who were anxious found breastfeeding was more difficult and felt that they couldn't get the support they needed. These factors are known to be linked to low breastfeeding rates.

"The important message from the findings is that some mothers may face more challenges with breastfeeding based on their wider personality. Although they may want to breastfeed, more introverted or anxious mothers may need further support in boosting their confidence and learning about how to solve problems, and they may need encouragement to make sure they access the breastfeeding support services that are available," said. Dr. Brown.

Explore further: CDC: Breastfeeding rates increasing in US

Related Stories

CDC: Breastfeeding rates increasing in US

August 1, 2013
(HealthDay)—More than three-quarters of infants begin breastfeeding, and rates at six and 12 months have increased since 2000, according to a report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Moms need help to overcome breastfeeding worries, study says

July 11, 2013
More support is needed to help women overcome doubts in the hope that they will breastfeed their babies for longer, says a University of Alberta nutrition researcher.

Persuading moms to breastfeed: Study examines effects of government nutrition program on choice to use infant formula

February 21, 2013
One of the federal government's goals in tweaking the content of its food packages for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program was to encourage more new mothers to breastfeed. The changes, which took effect ...

Need for debate on when babies should eat solids

July 31, 2013
A University of Adelaide researcher says it's time for Australia's health authorities to rethink advice on how long women breastfeed their children exclusively.

Warning to breastfeeding mothers

April 15, 2011
While breastfeeding babies has numerous health advantages to both mother and child, mothers who breastfeed may find that other people look down on them and do not want to work with them. A recent study released by Personality ...

Most moms stop breastfeeding earlier than they desire

February 19, 2013
(HealthDay)—Concerns about maternal or child health and lactation or milk-pumping problems are the major reasons why mothers stop breastfeeding earlier than desired, according to a study published online Feb. 18 in Pediatrics.

Recommended for you

Potential for sun damage should be carefully balanced with need for vitamin D in children, say scientists

April 24, 2018
Scientists at King's College London are encouraging parents and carers to ensure even more rigorous protection of children against the harmful effects of the sun. The comments follow a study which has suggested that children ...

Drinking affects mouth bacteria linked to diseases

April 24, 2018
When compared with nondrinkers, men and women who had one or more alcoholic drinks per day had an overabundance of oral bacteria linked to gum disease, some cancers, and heart disease. By contrast, drinkers had fewer bacteria ...

Millennials aren't getting the message about sun safety and the dangers of tanning

April 24, 2018
Many millennials lack knowledge about the importance of sunscreen and continue to tan outdoors in part because of low self-esteem and high rates of narcissism that fuel addictive tanning behavior, a new study from Oregon ...

People expect their memory to fade as early as their 50s

April 24, 2018
People across the UK expect their memory to worsen in their 50s, according to new research from Heriot-Watt University.

Aging: The natural stress reliever for many women

April 24, 2018
While some research suggests that midlife is a dissatisfying time for women, other studies show that women report feeling less stressed and enjoy a higher quality of life during this period.

Napping and teenage learning

April 24, 2018
Teenagers and sleep. It's certainly a passionate subject for many American parents, and those in China. University of Delaware's Xiaopeng Ji is investigating the relationship between midday-napping behaviors and neurocognitive ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.