Author ORCID Identifier


Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Saba Masho


Background: The United States has one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the world. Studies hypothesize that inadequate social support from healthcare providers, family members, and employers may have contributed to the low breastfeeding rate. This study aims to: 1) examine the importance of each individual (father, maternal grandmother, paternal grandmother, obstetrician, and pediatrician) within the social support network on breastfeeding initiation and duration, 2) determine the relationship between type of prenatal care provider and time to breastfeeding cessation, and 3) examine the role of breastfeeding intention and confidence as mediators in the association between workplace support and breastfeeding duration

Methods: This study analyzed data from the Infant Feeding Practices Survey II. Breastfeeding duration was reported as number of weeks. Breastfeeding initiation was dichotomized (yes; no). Logistic regression was used to investigate breastfeeding initiation. Cox proportional hazards models was utilized to assess the relationship between social support and breastfeeding duration. Structural equation modeling was used to determine the role of mediators in the association between workplace support and breastfeeding duration.

Results: Mothers whose prenatal care was provided by a midwife were more likely to initiate breastfeeding and breastfeed for a longer duration. The relationship between workplace support and breastfeeding duration is mediated by a mother’s confidence in attaining breastfeeding goals. Lastly, this study found that multiple individuals within a mother’s social support network are important for breastfeeding initiation and duration.

Conclusion: This project shed light into various components of social support that are integral to mother’s breastfeeding behaviors.


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Available for download on Tuesday, December 13, 2022