The Effect of a Woman's Significant Other on her Breasifeeding Decision

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The infant feeding preferences of significant others have been shown to influence a pregnant woman's breastfeeding decision. Many researchers and policy makers are calling for the inclusion of a woman's significant other in the counseling and education of pregnant women regarding breastfeeding. This study reports on the impact of the significant other's infant feeding preferences and beliefs on a woman's intention to breastfeed, her initiation and successful initiation (longer than seven days) of breastfeeding. “Significant other” was defined as the person whom the pregnant woman reported as the one whose opinion “mattered the most to her” regarding feeding her infant. A randomly selected sub-sample of 133 women and their significant others was chosen from a larger infant feeding study. This sub-sample was heterogeneous with respect to age, education, and marital status. The women were interviewed during their third trimester of pregnancy and again at 7-10 days postpartum. Their significant others (71 percent baby's father and 29 percent baby's maternal grandmother), were interviewed during the woman's third trimester of pregnancy. Results indicate that a woman's intention to breastfeed is strongly and positively affected by the significant other's infant feeding preferences, initiation of breastfeeding is mediated through intention to breastfeed, and successful initiation of breastfeeding is also mediated through intention and is uniquely dependent on the pregnant woman's self-efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-109
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Human Lactation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1995


  • breastfeeding
  • infant feeding
  • lactation
  • significant other

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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