Parenting styles and types: Breastfeeding attitudes in a large sample of mothers

Davis, Abigail M.B., Coleman, Charlotte and Kramer, Robin S.S. (2021) Parenting styles and types: Breastfeeding attitudes in a large sample of mothers. Midwifery, 103 . p. 103142. ISSN 0266-6138

Full content URL:

Parenting styles and types: Breastfeeding attitudes in a large sample of mothers
Authors' Accepted Manuscript

Request a copy
[img] PDF
manuscript.pdf - Whole Document
Restricted to Repository staff only until 14 September 2022.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International.

Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive


The importance of breastfeeding for both maternal and infant health is well established. However, it remains the case that only a small percentage of infants are breastfed after the first six months of life. Maternal negative breastfeeding attitudes are associated with a reduced likelihood of breastfeeding an infant, but they are a malleable target for practitioner interventions. By adjusting perceptions, and therefore behaviours within the population, maternal and infant health outcomes may be improved. As such, it is important to understand whether certain types of mother might feel more negatively about breastfeeding. Here. we investigated the relationships between parenting styles, personality traits, and breastfeeding attitudes. In addition, we aimed to address the interrelated nature of parenting styles by identifying ‘types’ of mother who may feel more negatively about breastfeeding.

A cross-sectional survey was used in order to measure parenting styles, personality traits, and attitudes to breastfeeding.

A sample of 1,347 mothers (age M = 31.4 years, SD = 7.4 years) participated. Recruitment took place through online mother and baby groups based predominantly in the United Kingdom.

More permissive and less uninvolved mothers felt positively about breastfeeding, but limited associations between personality factors and breastfeeding attitudes were found. We applied a cluster analytical approach to investigate whether there were particular ‘types’ of mothers in our sample, and if these showed systematic differences. Our analyses revealed two profiles, best described as ‘high nurturance’ (high scoring on authoritative and permissive) and ‘low nurturance’ (low scoring on these dimensions). These two types of mother showed significant differences along all four parenting styles, and our ‘high nurturance’ type was more conscientious and emotionally stable, and felt more positively about breastfeeding.

Parenting styles were associated with breastfeeding attitudes. Through identifying an underlying nurturance dimension that best explains differences in parenting styles across mothers, we provide a potential avenue to improving breastfeeding attitudes. By focussing on ‘low nurturance’ mothers in particular, professionals may be able to provide interventions to improve breastfeeding attitudes and, as a result, address low rates of breastfeeding in the UK.

Keywords:Breastfeeding attitudes, Parenting style, Parenting type, Personality, Cluster analysis
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C841 Health Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C820 Developmental Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:46613
Deposited On:12 Oct 2021 11:37

Repository Staff Only: item control page