Who Supports Breastfeeding Mothers?

An Investigation of Kin Investment in the United States

Abstract

Breastfeeding is one important form of maternal investment that is influenced by support from kin and non-kin. This paper investigates who provides support for breastfeeding mothers and their children, what type of support they provide, and how support impacts breastfeeding duration. The data were derived from a survey of 594 American mothers and were analyzed using quantitative methods, including Cox regression. Analyses indicate that mothers receive significant support, particularly from spouses and maternal grandmothers. More frequent breastfeeding discussions with La Leche League and maternal grandfathers were associated with longer duration, whereas discussions with physicians were associated with shorter breastfeeding duration. Results indicate that consulting others specifically about breastfeeding may influence breastfeeding decisions. The results are consistent with the idea that social support may influence breastfeeding duration and that some types of support are more influential than others. Furthermore, support persons should be educated about breastfeeding to prevent early weaning.

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Acknowledgments

Thanks to Mary Shenk, Lisa Sattenspiel, Robert Walker, David Nolin, Jonathan Cisco, and the many mothers who completed the survey.

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Correspondence to Jayme Cisco.

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Cisco, J. Who Supports Breastfeeding Mothers? . Hum Nat 28, 231–253 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12110-017-9286-y

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Keywords

  • Parenting
  • Breastfeeding
  • Maternal investment
  • Kin investment
  • Social support