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Breastfeeding, marital satisfaction, and family functioning in primiparous couples Butt, Yolanda A.

Abstract

Little is known about the impact of infant-feeding practices on the marriage and on the functioning of the family. Research to date has focussed on the physiological, developmental, and psychological benefits of breastfeeding for the infant; the determinants of breastfeeding; and the sexual relations between the parents postpartum but has ignored the immediate and longer-term effects of infant-feeding practices on the family. The objective of this study was to determine whether breastfeeding predicts marital satisfaction and family functioning for first-time parents. Secondary data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth was analyzed for 1600 primiparous parents; 1444 of the persons most knowledgeable (PMK) were female while 156 were male. A review of the statistical findings reveals that there is evidence for the positive effect of breastfeeding on immediate marital satisfaction and family functioning. What is surprising, however, is that the proposed model is only relevant for fathers whose wives are currently breastfeeding. The relationship between breastfeeding and family functioning is mediated by marital satisfaction and moderated by social support for fathers. This study also includes an analysis of the breastfeeding practices (duration and reasons for cessation) of the families surveyed from across the provinces of Canada.

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