Support Factors that Influence Mothers' Decisions to Breastfeed Their Twins and Triplets Beyond 12 Months of Age

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The Ohio State University

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This study aims to determine support factors that influence women's decisions to breastfeed their multiples for over 12 months and characterize this group of particularly successful breastfeeding mothers, with the intention of informing breastfeeding promotion interventions. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months. However, it is estimated that only 25% of twins and 15% of triplets still receive some human milk at 6 months. Multiple births comprise a relatively small proportion of births annually but are associated with a high frequency of complications, such as prematurity, that create breastfeeding difficulties. These circumstances make multiples an important target for breastfeeding interventions. Data were collected via a self-administered online survey that was distributed internationally via La Leche League. The survey included questions regarding the breastfeeding experience with each child and about various types of support that influenced the experiences. All the women breastfed multiples for over 12 months and a majority are white, well educated (80% with college degree), and 30 – 39 years old. Most live in the United States and have 2 – 3 children. Only 20% of respondents indicated that their child's primary care provider's recommendations were important/very important to their decision, and only 12% indicated the same regarding their doctor's recommendations. Factors highly rated as important included nutritional value of breast milk, other health benefits of breastfeeding, establishing a strong bond, and mother and child enjoying breastfeeding. A majority of the sample (71%) felt their partner was important/very important to their decision. This relationship is the most highly rated as influential. Including the woman's partner could enhance educational opportunities designed to encourage mothers of multiples to breastfeed. Additionally, emphasis on health benefits of breastfeeding may encourage mothers to breastfeed longer. Further research to test breastfeeding interventions should be completed with these results in mind.



breastfeeding, multiples, twins, triplets, support