Ahluwalia IB, Li R, Morrow B Breastfeeding practices: does method of delivery matter?. Matern Child Health J. 2012; 16:231-237

Al-Sahab B, Lanes A, Feldman M, Tamim H Prevalence and predictors of 6-month exclusive breastfeeding among Canadian women: a national survey. BMC Pediatr. 2010; 10:(1)

Barnes J, Stein A, Smith T, Pollock JI Avon Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood. Extreme attitudes to body shape, social and psychological factors and a reluctance to breast feed. J R Soc Med. 1997; 90:(10)551-559

Celi AC, Rich-Edwards JW, Richardson MK, Kleinman KP, Gillman MW Immigration, race/ethnicity, and social and economic factors as predictors of breastfeeding initiation. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005; 159:(3)255-260

Conner M Cognitive Determinants of Health Behavior. In: Steptoe A London: Springer;

Coreil J Social and Behavioral Foundations of Public Health.London: Sage Publications; 2009

Department of Health. Infant Feeding Recommendation. 2003. (accessed 27 March 2017)

Department of Health. Statistical release: breastfeeding initiation and prevalence at 6 to 8 weeks—quarter 3, 2010/11. 2011. (accessed 2 April 2017)

Department of Health. Improving outcomes and supporting Transparency. Part 2: Summary technical specifications of public health indicators. 2014. (accessed 27 March 2017)

Erikson EH, Erikson J The Life Cycle Completed.New York: WW Norton and Company Ltd; 1997

Ever-Hadani P, Seidman DS, Manor O, Harlap S Breast feeding in Israel: maternal factors associated with choice and duration. J Epidemiol Community Health. 1994; 48:(3)281-285

Cohabitation, marriage and relationship stability. 2010. (accessed 31 March 2017)

Green J, Thorogood N Qualitative Methods for Health Research.London: Sage Publications; 2009

Making Policy Better: Improving Whitehall's Core Business. 2011. (accessed 27 March 2017)

Hoddinott P, Pill R Qualitative study of decisions about infant feeding among women in east end of London. BMJ. 1999; 318:(7175)30-34

Hoddinott P, Kroll T, Raja A, Lee AJ Seeing other women breastfeed: how vicarious experience relates to breastfeeding intention and behaviour. Matern Child Nutr. 2010; 6:(2)134-146

Jones DA The choice to breast feed or bottle feed and influences upon that choice: a survey of 1525 mothers. Child Care Health Dev. 1987; 13:(2)75-85

Racial/ethnic differences in breastfeeding initiation and continuation in the UK and comparison of findings in the United States. 2006. (accessed 27 March 2017)

Larsen JS, Kronborg H When breastfeeding is unsuccessful—mothers experiences after giving up breastfeeding. Scand J Caring Sci. 2013; 27:(4)848-856

Mothers' experience of, and attitudes to, using infant formula in the early months. 2008. (accessed 27 March 2017)

Fair Society, Healthy Lives: L The Marmot Review. 2010. (accessed 27 March 2017)

Marshall J, Raynor M Myles Textbook for Midwives, 16th edn. London: Churchill Livingstone; 2014

Infant Feeding Survey 2010. 2012. (accessed 27 March 2017)

The sociology of health and illness. 2006.

NHS England. 2017. (accessed 2 April 2017)

Pampel FC, Krueger PM, Denney JT Socioeconomic Disparities in Health Behaviors. Annu Rev Sociol. 2010; 36:(1)349-370

Public Health England and UNICEF. Monitoring infant feeding data support pack (Part 3): Key data sources for planning effective breastfeeding support. 2016. (accessed 3 April 2017)

Public Health England. Breastfeeding at 6 to 8 weeks after birth: 2016 to 2017 quarterly data. 2017. (accessed 2 April 2017)

Reder PD Studies in the Assessment of Parenting.East Sussex: Brunner-Routledge; 2003

Preventing disease and saving resources: the potential contribution of increasing breastfeeding rates in the UK. 2012. (accessed 31 March 2017)

Rollins NC, Bhandari N, Hajeebhoy N Why invest, and what it will take to improve breastfeeding practices?. Lancet. 2016; 387:(10017)491-504

Shepherd C, Power K, Carter H Examining the correspondence of breastfeeding and bottle-feeding couples' infant feeding attitudes. J Adv Nurs. 2000; 31:(3)651-60

British HIV Association and Children's HIV Association Position Statement on Infant Feeding in the UK. 2010. (accessed 28 March 2017)

Victora CG, Bahl R, Barros AJD Breastfeeding in the 21st century: epidemiology, mechanisms, and lifelong effect. Lancet. 2016; 387:(10017)475-490

Wardle J, Steptoe A Socioeconomic differences in attitudes and beliefs about healthy lifestyles. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2003; 57:(6)440-443

World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative Steering and Core Groups. World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative UK Report 2016. 2016. (accessed 1 April 2017)

World Health Organization. Infant and young child feeding. 2014. (accessed 31 March 2017)

World Health Organization. Breastfeeding. 2017. (accessed 30 March 2017)

Wilkins C, Ryan K, Green J, Thomas P Infant feeding attitudes of women in the UK during pregnancy and after birth. J Hum Lact. 2012; 28:(4)547-555

What influences women to bottle-feed from birth and to discontinue breastfeeding early?

02 July 2017
Volume 25 · Issue 7



Internationally, breast milk is recognised as the best form of infant feeding, yet in the UK, bottle feeding rates are among the highest in the world.


The aim of this research study was to investigate the relationship between socioeconomic, demographic, family-related, pregnancy and birth factors, and bottle feeding in the UK.


A secondary analysis of the Infant Feeding Survey 2010 was conducted and two time points differentiated: bottle feeding from birth and early breastfeeding cessation.


Results demonstrated that bottle feeding from birth was predicted by a range of independent social disadvantage factors, namely being young, single, unemployed, white British and poorly educated. Other influencing factors were the increased number of children, having a caesarean section, no underlying health problems post birth and having friends who bottle-fed. Early breastfeeding cessation was predicted by the same independent determinants except for working in intermediate or routine/manual occupations, having friends that mix-fed, and developing health problems post birth.


The context in which mothers live is a key determinant of how they feed their babies and that, for many women, feeding method is a consequence of their social context and not a choice.

Breastmilk has been widely advocated as the optimal nutrition for newborn babies and infants. In both developing and developed countries, extensive research has produced evidence to sustain claims that early nutrition has a direct influence on infant morbidity and mortality (Department of Health, 2014), and that, for most infants, breastmilk has considerable advantages over formula substitutes. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that, globally, more than 800 000 children under the age of 5 years old could have been saved every year if optimally breastfed (WHO, 2014). Despite this, the UK, a developed country, is placed among those with the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world.

Recommendations advise exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of an infant's life (Department of Health, 2003) but the latest figures show that, although 72.6% of women initiate exclusive breastfeeding at birth (NHS England, 2017), prevalence dramatically drops to 30% at 6–8 weeks after birth (Public Health England, 2017) and to only about 1% by the time the infant is 6 months old (McAndrew, et al, 2012).

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting British Journal of Midwifery and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for midwives. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to our clinical or professional articles

  • New content and clinical newsletter updates each month