A new analysis has found that mothers who are more extroverted and less anxious are more likely to breastfeed and to continue to breastfeed than mothers who are introverted or anxious.
Published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, the study indicates that new mothers with certain personalities may need additional support and education to help them feel confident, self assured, and knowledgeable about breastfeeding.
Breastfed babies have lower levels of infections and allergies and are less likely to be overweight, while mothers who breastfeed are less likely to develop certain cancers.
Many factors can affect whether a mother breastfeeds, but mothers who have lots of support, feel confident, and know how to overcome problems are more likely to breastfeed for longer. Understanding what makes a mother feel confident and supported is important to increasing breastfeeding rates. Many studies have looked at the role of mothers’ education, age, and relationships, but the link between breastfeeding and a mother’s personality has not been explored.
Amy Brown, PhD, surveyed 602 mothers with infants aged six to 12 months old, between March and June 2009. The questionnaire examined the mothers’ personalities, how long they breastfed, and their attitudes and experiences of breastfeeding.
Mothers who indicated that they were extroverts and were emotionally stable were significantly more likely to initiate and continue breastfeeding for a longer duration.
Dr Brown believes that the findings can be explained by the link between mothers’ personalities and their attitudes and experiences of breastfeeding. Mothers who were introverted felt more self-conscious about breastfeeding in front of others and were more likely to formula-feed because other people wanted them to. Meanwhile mothers who were anxious found breastfeeding was more difficult and felt that they couldn’t get the support they needed.
“Although they may want to breastfeed, more introverted or anxious mothers may need further support in boosting their confidence and learning about how to solve problems,” said. Dr Brown.