Breastfeeding – Initiation, duration, attitudes and experiences

Sammanfattning: The overall aim of this thesis was to increase knowledge about factors that influence breastfeeding initiation and duration, as well as about women’s attitudes towards breastfeeding during pregnancy.The first two studies were a part of the UPPSAT project, a population-based cohort study conducted in Uppsala, Sweden. The women answered questionnaires five days, six weeks and six months postpartum, including questions on breastfeeding initiation and duration. Eight hundred and seventy-nine women and 679 women were included in the first study (Paper I) and second study (Paper II), respectively. The third study (Paper III) was part of the BASIC study, a large cohort following women from pregnancy and up to one year postpartum. In BASIC, the women completed web-questionnaires, and 1217 women participated during mid-pregnancy and postpartum. The fourth study (Paper IV) was part of a qualitative project, “Narratives of breastfeeding”, and included 11 women, interviewed individually in late pregnancy.The prevalence of the hands-on approach was 38%. Women who received the hands-on approach were more likely to report a negative experience of the first breastfeeding session (Paper I). Seventy-seven percent of the women reported exclusive breastfeeding up to, at least, two months postpartum. Being a first-time mother, reporting emotional distress during pregnancy, and giving birth by cesarean section were factors independently associated with exclusive breastfeeding lasting less than two months postpartum (Paper II). Women with depressive symptoms during pregnancy who breastfed for the first time later than two hours postpartum had the highest odds of not breastfeeding exclusively at six weeks postpartum (Paper III). When pregnant women thought about their future breastfeeding, they were balancing between social norms and personal desires (Paper IV).These results can help to develop clinical practice to improve women’s experience of the first breastfeeding session. Additionally, the results may facilitate identifying women in need for targeted support, in order to promote longer exclusive breastfeeding duration. By acknowledging pregnant women’s thoughts and attitudes about breastfeeding, breastfeeding information and support, health care professionals can meet the needs and desires of women.