Examining prenatal breast-feeding self-efficacy and infant feeding decisions among African American women using a mixed-method approach. A black feminist philosophy was used to keep women's experiences as the central research focus.
The Prenatal Breast-feeding Self-efficacy Scale was used to determine differences between intended breast-feeders and formula users among 59 women. Seventeen narrative interviews were conducted to analyze postpartum accounts of actual feeding practices.
Both groups (intended breast- or formula-feeders) demonstrated confidence in their ability to breast-feed. Women planning to breast-feed (M = 82.59, SD = 12.53) scored significantly higher than anticipated formula users (M = 70, SD = 15.45), P = .001 (2-tailed). Four of the six themes emerging from narrative analysis were similar to categories of self-efficacy: performance accomplishments, vicarious experiences, verbal persuasions, and physiological reactions. In addition, themes of social embarrassment and feelings of regret were identified.
Although African American women in this study rated themselves overall as confident with breast-feeding, several narratives about actual feeding choices indicated ambivalence. Women planning to breast-feed need continued support from their healthcare providers throughout the childbearing year. Furthermore, prenatal and immediate postpartum opportunities may exist for nurses to encourage breast-feeding among individuals who initially plan formula use.