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Maternal attitude towards breastfeeding: A concept analysis

02 July 2018
15 min read
Volume 26 · Issue 7

Abstract

Background

Mother and infant benefits of breastfeeding have been confirmed globally. Maternal attitude is a significant predictor for intention, initiation and continuation of breastfeeding, and is a multi-faceted and frequently-used concept.

Aims

To undertake a literature review and concept analysis of maternal attitude related to breastfeeding.

Methods

Walker and Avant's eight-step framework was used.

Findings

Attitude is a multi-faceted, frequently-used concept. Four critical attributes were identified: making a judgment based on beliefs, experience, knowledge and/or principles; feelings and thoughts towards a specific topic; a decision to agree, disagree or remain neutral; and consideration of behaviour and/or action change (or a decision not to take action). The review suggests that health professionals could apply the assessment of patient attitude to achieve desired behaviour.

Conclusion

Maternal attitude was related to intention, initiation and continuation of breastfeeding.

This article explores and clarifies the concept of maternal attitude as related to breastfeeding by exploring the literature and undertaking a concept analysis using Walker and Avant's (2011) eight-step framework for concept analysis.

The nutritional, immunological, physical, psychosocial, economic and environmental benefits of breastfeeding for infants, postpartum women and communities have been well proven (Cornall, 2011). Breastfeeding can be described as ‘exclusive breastfeeding’, where no artificial milk substitutes or other fluids are given to the infant, or as ‘partial or mixed breastfeeding’, where the infant is given some breast milk supplemented by formula milk and/or other fluids. The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF (2003) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for a minimum of 6 months post-birth and partial breastfeeding for up to 2 years and beyond for optimal health in children and to promote healthy growth and development of the infant. Children who are breastfed are less likely to develop infections during infancy and chronic diseases later in childhood, and have improved cognition and IQ (Horta et al, 2015). Maternal benefits include faster return to postpartum uterine tone, postpartum weight loss, and delayed resumption of menses (Chowdhury et al, 2015). In addition, breastfeeding reduces the risk of a woman developing invasive breast cancer by 4.3% and ovarian cancer by 30% (Victora et al, 2016).

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