Women's Experiences with Breastfeeding Longer Than 12 Months

Sharon C. Hills‐Bonczyk, Kristine R. Tromiczak, Melissa D. Avery, Susan Potter, Kay Savik, Laura J Duckett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


ABSTRACT: This prospective, longitudinal study was conducted to describe the experiences of 82 primiparas who breastfed longer than 12 months. They were compared with 541 primiparas who weaned their infants within the first year. Greater age, education, and weeks of exclusive breastfeeding were associated with longer duration of breastfeeding. More than two‐thirds (68%) of the women who breastfed longer than one year returned to employment before their infant was 1 year old. The most frequently chosen reason for long‐term breastfeeding was that breastfeeding was a special time for mother and baby that the mother was not ready to give up. Nearly half of the women reported breastfeeding their‐ babies on demand. At 12 to 15 months, 54 percent of the babies slept in a crib in a separate room, and 37 percent slept in the same bed with their mother all or part of the night. Most mothers (57%) considered their support group to be slightly or moderately important in influencing their decision to breastfeed beyond a year, and 10 percent considered it to be extremely important. The major themes that emerged from women's comments were the importance of being strong in the face of social unacceptability, development of n close mother‐child bond, and the naturalness of breastfeeding beyond 12 months. Health caregivers should recognize the emotional and interpersonal aspects of long‐term breastfeeding, support the breastfeeding relationship, and avoid contributing to the development of “closet nursers” so that women may feel free to discuss their concerns about their child's health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)206-212
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1994


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