Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Does body image influence the relationship between body weight and breastfeeding maintenance in new mothers?
Author(s): Swanson, Vivien
Keely, Alice
Denison, Fiona C
Contact Email:
Keywords: body image
breastfeeding maintenance
health behaviour
longitudinal study
maternal obesity
psychological distress
Issue Date: Sep-2017
Citation: Swanson V, Keely A & Denison FC (2017) Does body image influence the relationship between body weight and breastfeeding maintenance in new mothers?. British Journal of Health Psychology, 22 (3), pp. 557-576.
Abstract: Objectives  Obese women have lower breastfeeding initiation and maintenance rates than healthy weight women. Research generally focuses on biomedical explanations for this. Psychosocial factors including body image and well-being after childbirth are less well understood as predictors of breastfeeding. In obese and healthy weight women, we investigated changes in body image between 72 hrs post-delivery and 6–8 weeks post-natal, studying how women's body image related to breastfeeding initiation and maintenance. We also investigated how psychological distress was related to body image.  Design  Longitudinal semi-structured questionnaire survey.  Methods  Body image and psychological distress were assessed within 72 hrs of birth and by postal questionnaire at 6–8 weeks, for 70 obese and 70 healthy weight women initiating exclusive (breastmilk only) breastfeeding or mixed feeding (with formula milk) in hospital. Breastfeeding was re-assessed at 6–8 weeks.  Results  Obese women were less likely to exclusively breastfeed in hospital and maintain breastfeeding to 6–8 weeks. Better body image was related to maintaining breastfeeding and to lower post-natal psychological distress for all women, but education level was the most significant predictor of maintenance in multivariate regression including body image and weight status. Body image mediated, but did not moderate the relationship between weight and breastfeeding maintenance. Body image was lower overall in obese women, but all women had low body image satisfaction around childbirth, reducing further at 6–8 weeks.  Conclusions  Health professionals should consider women's body image when discussing breastfeeding. A focus on breast function over form may support breastfeeding for all women.
DOI Link: 10.1111/bjhp.12246
Rights: This item has been embargoed for a period. During the embargo please use the Request a Copy feature at the foot of the Repository record to request a copy directly from the author. You can only request a copy if you wish to use this work for your own research or private study. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Swanson, V., Keely, A. and Denison, F. C. (2017), Does body image influence the relationship between body weight and breastfeeding maintenance in new mothers?. Br J Health Psychol, 22: 557–576, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Authors final version BJHP.16.0194_R2.pdfFulltext - Accepted Version1.36 MBAdobe PDFView/Open

This item is protected by original copyright

Items in the Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.

If you believe that any material held in STORRE infringes copyright, please contact providing details and we will remove the Work from public display in STORRE and investigate your claim.