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'Both parents should care for babies': A cross-sectional, cross-cultural comparison of adolescents' breastfeeding intentions, and the influence of shared-parenting beliefs

Citation
Swanson V, Hannula L, Eriksson L, Wallin MH & Strutton J (2017) 'Both parents should care for babies': A cross-sectional, cross-cultural comparison of adolescents' breastfeeding intentions, and the influence of shared-parenting beliefs, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 17, Art. No.: 204.

Abstract
Background: Many young men and women expect to co-parent their newborn infant. This may have a positive or negative impact on decisions to breastfeed, which is an important health behaviour, influenced by cultural and psycho-social norms. We investigated the relationship between shared parenting, infant feeding beliefs and intentions in male and female (non-parent) adolescents, comparing Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland) with high breastfeeding rates with others with low rates (Scotland, USA). 

Methods: We utilised cross-sectional surveys of male and female adolescents (n=1064, age 12-18) administered directly in schools or via the internet. We assessed attitudes to breast and formula feeding and shared parenting, using a Theory of Planned Behaviour framework, assessing beliefs, attitudes, norms and control as predictors of intention. 
Results: Male and female adolescents’ breastfeeding intentions varied in line with national cultural norms. Young people from Nordic countries (high breastfeeding rates) were significantly more likely to intend to breastfeed than those from Scotland or the USA (low breastfeeding rates). Positive beliefs about breastfeeding, norms and ‘exposure’ to breastfeeding and feeding confidence were consistently stronger in Nordic countries, whereas young people in Scotland had more positive beliefs, norms and ‘exposure’ to formula feeding. Differences in parenting beliefs, norms and confidence were less consistent. In logistic regression, cultural group, positive breastfeeding beliefs and exposure, norms, and shared parenting beliefs were significant predictors of breastfeeding feeding intention. 
Conclusions: Positive beliefs about shared parenting and equal 1 gender norms were related to future breastfeeding intentions for female and male adolescents. Health education programmes for young people could encourage positive breastfeeding choices by considering how this would fit with young people’s ideal parenting roles, and by emphasising benefits of complementary maternal and paternal roles in breastfeeding newborn infants.

Keywords
Adolescents; Parenting; Breastfeeding; Cross-cultural comparison; Theory of Planned Behaviour

StatusPublished
AuthorsSwanson Vivien, Hannula Leena, Eriksson Linda, Wallin Malin Haggvist, Strutton Joan
Publication date29/06/2017
Publication date online29/06/2017
Date accepted by journal05/06/2017
PublisherBioMed Central
ISSN 1471-2393
LanguageEnglish

Journal
bmc Pregnancy and Childbirth: Volume 17

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