Maternal breastfeeding support and maternal obesity are concerns effectively addressed at the community level. International, national and regional surveys have established that elevated maternal body mass index (BMI) is a risk factor for early cessation of breastfeeding. However, the extent of these concerns in the local community is often an unknown and related to variables such as socioeconomic status, education, culture and ethnicity.
We believed that a survey of post‐natal breastfeeding and BMI status would provide a valuable insight into developing targeted local health initiatives.
Materials and Methods
In 2014, we teamed up with the Whittlesea Maternal and Child Health Service to complete a questionnaire of mothers and babies attending the eight‐week infant review. Data included: infant and maternal weight, medical conditions, breastfeeding experience and satisfaction, prime language, education level, support.
Maternal obesity at eight weeks postpartum was high at 28.9%, with 63.6% of mothers being overweight or obese. Obesity was associated with a lack of higher education (P < 0.05) and with English as the prime language (P < 0.05). Breastfeeding initiation was high across all BMI categories at 98.3%. By eight weeks, 32.2% of mothers had ceased breastfeeding. Breastfeeding continuation at eight weeks was negatively correlated with elevated BMI (P < 0.01). Breastfeeding cessation in mothers with elevated BMI correlated with psycho‐social concerns (P < 0.05) and lack of previous breastfeeding experience (P < 0.01). Conclusion Elevated maternal BMI is prevalent in our community and significantly impacts the success of breastfeeding in the early post‐natal period. The survey data have allowed targeted health responses to be developed.