Effect of Maternal Body Mass Index on Infant Breastfeeding Behaviors and Exclusive Direct Breastfeeding

Ruth Lucas, Michelle Judge, Joanna Sajdlowska, Xiaomei Cong, Jacqueline M. Mcgrath, Debra Brandon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objective: To describe the effect of maternal body mass index (BMI) on infant breastfeeding behaviors (poor, steady, vigorous) and the transition of the mother-infant dyad to exclusive, direct breastfeeding during the first month of life. Design: Longitudinal descriptive investigation. Setting: Tertiary-level southeastern medical center and follow-up telephone calls. Participants: One hundred sixteen healthy, racially diverse, breastfeeding mother-infant dyads (77 full-term and 39 late-preterm infants). Main Outcome Measure(s): Breastfeeding outcomes were classified as exclusive direct or partially breastfed. The effect of maternal BMI was compared to results from weekly mother's reports of infant breastfeeding behaviors. Results: Significant breastfeeding differences were observed based on maternal BMI and infant gestational age. Mothers with BMIs greater than 25 who described their infants as a vigorous breastfeeders were less likely to exclusively direct breastfeed (p < .002). Only 40% of mother-infant dyads had exclusive direct breastfeeding at any time point or gestational age with no significant increase at any time point after discharge. The BMIs of the woman made no difference in exclusive direct breastfeeding full-term infants compared to late-preterm infants. Conclusion: Maternal BMI had limited negative influence on exclusive direct breastfeeding during the first 4 weeks after discharge. Mothers should be educated that many infants need 3 to 4 weeks after discharge to learn how to breastfeed, infant feeding demands change during this time, and this time is important to the infant's neurologic and overall development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)772-783
Number of pages12
JournalJOGNN - Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • BMI
  • Body mass index
  • Breastfeeding
  • Breastfeeding duration
  • Exclusive direct breastfeeding
  • Exclusively breastfeeding
  • Infant behavior
  • Infant breastfeeding behavior
  • Lactation
  • Maternal BMI
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics
  • Critical Care
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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