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  1. Robinson, Karen M. PhD, RN, CNM
  2. VandeVusse, Leona PhD, RN, CNM, FACNM


Purpose: Examining prenatal breast-feeding self-efficacy and infant feeding decisions among African American women using a mixed-method approach. A black feminist philosophy was used to keep women's experiences as the central research focus.


Method: The Prenatal Breast-feeding Self-efficacy Scale was used to determine differences between intended breast-feeders and formula users among 59 women. Seventeen narrative interviews were conducted to analyze postpartum accounts of actual feeding practices.


Results: Both groups (intended breast- or formula-feeders) demonstrated confidence in their ability to breast-feed. Women planning to breast-feed (M = 82.59, SD = 12.53) scored significantly higher than anticipated formula users (M = 70, SD = 15.45), P = .001 (2-tailed). Four of the six themes emerging from narrative analysis were similar to categories of self-efficacy: performance accomplishments, vicarious experiences, verbal persuasions, and physiological reactions. In addition, themes of social embarrassment and feelings of regret were identified.


Conclusion: Although African American women in this study rated themselves overall as confident with breast-feeding, several narratives about actual feeding choices indicated ambivalence. Women planning to breast-feed need continued support from their healthcare providers throughout the childbearing year. Furthermore, prenatal and immediate postpartum opportunities may exist for nurses to encourage breast-feeding among individuals who initially plan formula use.