FACTORS AFFECTING CHOICE OF FEEDING METHOD AND SATISFACTION IN MOTHERING
PESSAH, VICTORIA WOLFSON
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This study examined the effects of certain personality characteristics and experiential factors on the initiation and success of breastfeeding and subsequent satisfaction in mothering. Forty-nine breast-choice and twenty-one bottle-choice primaparas were tested during the third trimester of pregnancy. The emphasis on baby-centered versus mother-centered reasons for feeding choice, level of breast-anxiety, and degree of external support for feeding choice were assessed. In addition, three aspects of psychosexual identification were measured: attitudes toward women's role, sex-role, and gender identity. Fifty-eight subjects were retested at least six weeks post-partum to assess general satisfaction with motherhood, enjoyment of child-care activities, and post-partum changes in sex-role and gender identity.;As expected, breast-choice women were more baby-centered, had lower breast-anxiety, and had more enthusiastic support for their feeding choice. There were no significant differences between groups on any aspect of feminine identification. Breast-choice women were more likely to have gender conflict, although this trend was not significant.;As predicted, mother-centered breast-choice women and women with gender conflict were more likely to succeed at nursing. Degree of breast-anxiety and external support were unrelated to success. Contrary to expectation, successful breastfeeding was correlated with a decrease in feminine gender identity and sex-role attributes.;General satisfaction with motherhood and enjoyment of child-care activities were found to be virtually independent dimensions. Enjoyment of child-care was positively correlated with baby-centeredness, low breast-anxiety, strong feminine sex-role attributes and successful breastfeeding. General satisfaction was positively correlated with unconflicted feminine gender identity, satisfaction with birth experience, and satisfaction with original feeding choice. Women who were generally satisfied with motherhood perceived their husbands as satisfied with fatherhood, their infants as relatively easy to care for, and themselves as robust.;In summary, the initiation and success of breast-feeding depended on several factors, some of which were unrelated to concern for the infant's welfare. Enjoyment of child-care depended primarily on personality variables, while general satisfaction with motherhood depended primarily on experiential factors.