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Stressful Life Events: Risk Factors for Poor Breastfeeding Outcomes

Charlotte Laubacher and Susan Sereika, School of Nursing, University of Pittsburgh, 3500 Victoria Street, Victoria Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15261

To date there has been limited research and inconsistent findings regarding the association of stressful life events during pregnancy (e.g., death of a family member, divorce, homelessness) and breastfeeding initiation, continuation, duration, and exclusivity. The purpose of this secondary analysis was to describe various stressors and their association with breastfeeding for mothers in Pennsylvania. The source of data was the Pennsylvania sector of the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) and included demographic characteristics, stressors identified in the literature (i.e., family member illness, divorce, relocation, homelessness, partner lost job, mother lost job, frequent arguments, partner not supportive of pregnancy, problem paying bills, physical fighting, partner incarcerated, other’s drug use, other’s death) and breastfeeding initiation and continuation. Mothers (n=1080) were White (75.5%), married (62.1%), at least college educated (37.0%), 25-34 years of age (58.4%), with 35.6% having received WIC during pregnancy and 40.9% having had no previous live births. Mothers reported on average 1.66 different stressors (SD=1.8, Median=1.0, range=0-11) during the pregnancy, with the stressors most frequently reported being relocation (28.3%), family member illness (24.2%), frequent arguments (22.5%), problems paying bills (18.0%), and an other’s death (17.9%). Most (78.8%, n=819) had initiated breastfeeding, and 52% (n=426) were still breastfeeding at the time of survey completion. Breastfeeding discontinuation was associated with all but three of the stressors examined (family member ill, partner lost job, other’s death) with the odds of discontinuation ranging from 1.78 (relocation, p<.001; frequent arguments, p=.001) to 12.50 for physical fighting (p<.001). No initiation of breastfeeding was associated with six of the stressors, with the odds of no initiation ranging from 1.50 for other’s death (p=.030) to 6.49 for partner incarcerated (p<.001). These findings suggest stressful life events may negatively impact breastfeeding outcomes and that clinicians should educate women regarding coping strategies for stress.




Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Charlotte Laubacher

Institution: University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing

Type: Poster

Subject: Nursing & Public Health

Status: Approved


Time and Location

Session: Poster 9
Date/Time: Wed 12:00pm-1:00pm
Session Number: 6016