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A study of expectant mothers' knowledge, choice and practice of infant feeding

Ijego Virginia Nwachuku, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Over the centuries, human infants have been fed with their mothers' breast milk. The development of alternatives, i.e., animal milk and artificial formula, have given contemporary mothers a second choice. Although both methods of infant feeding are capable of sustaining the human infant at this early stage of development, most scholars maintain that human milk is the most nutritious and best first-food for human infants. Most experts in infant nutrition generally recommend the mother's milk as her infant's first food, especially for healthy mothers and infants. Specifically, this study surveyed infant feeding choice and practice among samples of expectant mothers in three states in the United States. A total of 180 mothers from various clinics and agencies in three states were surveyed. These subjects completed a pre-delivery questionnaire on infant feeding choice and a post-delivery questionnaire on infant feeding practice. Chi-square tests and correlation analysis were used for data analysis. Results of the study highlight significant factors that influenced the subjects' choice of infant feeding methods before delivery and infant feeding practice after delivery. The subjects' demography, education, income, marital status, consultation with a nutritionist, childbirth education classes, and family infant feeding history were all found to be statistically significant factors that influenced pre-delivery choice and practice of infant feeding methods. The subjects' age, occupation and parity were not influential factors in choice of infant feeding methods. However, mothers' age, occupation and availability of support to mothers significantly influenced infant feeding practice. Post-delivery data analysis showed that the availability of after-delivery support system for mothers, type of feeding initiated immediately after delivery, latching, and feeding schedule were all statistically significant factors that influenced the subjects' post-delivery infant feeding practice. Other factors that influenced subjects' choice and practice of infant feeding methods includes influences of the media, hospital staff practices, peers/friends, spouse, and the baby's grandparents. The key findings and other general findings discussed later in this study are of significant importance to parents, child care service providers, early childhood educators, child developmentalists, doctors, nurses, and pediatricians.

Subject Area

Preschool education|Cellular biology|Nutrition|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Nwachuku, Ijego Virginia, "A study of expectant mothers' knowledge, choice and practice of infant feeding" (1998). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9841904.