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The Effect of Maternal Self-Regulated Motivation on Breastfeeding Continuation



Women frequently report breastfeeding problems in the early postpartum period. Women who have self-endorsed beliefs that breastfeeding benefits their babies and themselves are more likely to continue breastfeeding despite breastfeeding barriers. Maternal self-endorsed beliefs is a key component of maternal self-regulated motivation. The present study examined the association between maternal self-regulated motivation, breastfeeding duration and exclusivity in Chinese women.


This was a prospective cohort study, of which we recruited participants in postnatal maternity units of publicly funded hospitals in Hong Kong. Postpartum women were asked to fill in the validated breastfeeding self-regulation questionnaire (BSRQ) before hospital discharge and their breastfeeding status was assessed by telephone follow-ups at 6 and 12 weeks postpartum. Multiple logistic regression was used to study the relationship between breastfeeding self-regulated motivation and the duration of breastfeeding at follow-up.


At 6 and 12 weeks postpartum, women who breastfed exclusively scored significantly higher in self-regulated motivation than those who formula-fed. The self-regulated motivation was associated with higher odds of exclusive breastfeeding at 6 weeks and any breastfeeding at 12 weeks postpartum.

Conclusions for Practice

The study found that self-regulated motivation was positively related to breastfeeding duration. Maternal self-regulated motivation toward breastfeeding could be enhanced by the availability of social support and breastfeeding-friendly facilities, resulting in longer breastfeeding duration.

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Correspondence to Christine Y. K. Lau.

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Lau, C.Y.K., Fong, D.Y.T., Chan, V.H.S. et al. The Effect of Maternal Self-Regulated Motivation on Breastfeeding Continuation. Matern Child Health J (2021).

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  • Self-determination theory
  • Breastfeeding
  • Motivation
  • Postpartum
  • Chinese