Health professionals could offer more targeted support by further understanding the differences in confidence of breastfeeding mothers, a study suggests.
Dr Amy Brown, of Swansea University, said the research shows that anxious mothers may require extra support and information before feeling comfortable with breastfeeding their children.
The questionnaire of 602 women with babies aged between six and 12 months analysed five distinguishing personality features, including: openness to experience (preference for novelty, variety and intellectual curiosity); extroversion (sociability, assertiveness and talkativeness); agreeableness (helpfulness, co-operation and sympathetic tendencies); conscientiousness (discipline, organisation and achievement orientation); and emotional stability (on levels of anxiety and impulse control).
The women were also asked when they first began breastfeeding, at birth or later; how long they breastfed for; and whether they were currently continuing to breastfeed.
The researchers found that those who described themselves as outgoing and emotionally stable were more likely to initiate breastfeeding and do so for a longer period of time.
But the mothers who thought of themselves as nervous and shy found breastfeeding harder or would opt to bottle-feed, while also admitting to having concerns about breastfeeding in public.
Dr Brown wrote in the Journal of Advanced Nursing that by understanding the different personality traits - and how they influence breastfeeding - those working in the midwifery sector may be able to offer more purposeful, personal advice.
Recent studies have highlighted the benefits of breastfeeding, such as “improving children’s intelligence”, cited by Boston Children’s Hospital researchers; and as an aid to preventing ADHD, according to a study by Tel-Aviv University.
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