Infant feeding and maternal attitudes among mothers of low-income.

J. D. Leeper, T. Milo, T. R. Collins

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12 Scopus citations


Demographic variables, maternal attitudes, knowledge, practices, and support systems were examined in a sample of 50 women attending a public health clinic for well baby visits. Black women were nonsystematically selected an approached as they were waiting for their babies. Because the number of white women attending the clinic was small, an effort was made to include all of them. Data were obtained through individual interviews conducted by a trained interviewer. A questionnaire was constructed to obtain demographic information, information regarding prenatal awareness, delivery, mother infant interaction in the hospital, nutrition and infant care during the 1st year of life, and attitudes. 68% of the women were black and 32% were married. Most unmarried mothers lived with parents (50%), other relatives (26.5%), or ex husbands/boyfriends (5.9%). The mean educational level of 11.8 years was higher than anticipated for studies of public health department clinic populations. Teenagers made up 38% of the sample. 74% of the women reported family incomes below $8000. 64% had more than 1 child. Only 2 mothers in the sample had attended childbirth classes. 2/3 of the mothers recalled receiving no prior information about labor and delivery procedures and medications. Practices during the 1st few days after delivery indicate that only 20% of the mothers held their babires in the 1st hour after delivery and none of the mothers had the baby rooming in with them. 54% of the babies spent some time in the high risk nursery. This limited the mothers' opportunities to interact with and feed them. Only 3 of the mothers breastfed their babies for any length of time. 2 of them decided to breastfed because that was the best nutrition for the baby, and 1 did so because her mother had breastfed. The most common reasons given for bottlefeeding were not wanting to nurse (43.5%) and inconvenience (26.1%). Only 13% mentioned the necessity of back to school/work as a reason for not breastfeeding. No differences were observed between teenage mothers and older mothers in regard to the reasons for not breastfeeding. Since the number of breastfeeding mothers in this study was too small to permit statistical analysis, only scores for bottlefeeding mothers were compared. Bottlefeeding mothers of the low income group had statistically significant higher mean scores on 3 attitudinal scales: seclusion of the mother, acceleration of development, and mother's covert attitudes toward breastfeeding. Lower scores alone or with their spouses suggest that, when the childrearing responsibility was shared with extended family, mothers tended to be stricter with their children and minimized physical and emotional dependence of the children on them. Mothers who lived with spouses or alone tended to be more nurturing and less strict with their children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-265
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1983
Externally publishedYes


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