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Medically Complex Pregnancies and Early Breastfeeding Behaviors: A Retrospective Analysis Katy B. Kozhimannil1*, Judy Jou1, Laura B. Attanasio1, Lauren K. Joarnt2, Patricia McGovern3
1 Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States of America, 2 Harvard University,
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America, 3 Division of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, United States of America
Background: Breastfeeding is beneficial for women and infants, and medical contraindications are rare. Prenatal and labor- related complications may hinder breastfeeding, but supportive hospital practices may encourage women who intend to breastfeed. We measured the relationship between having a complex pregnancy (entering pregnancy with hypertension, diabetes, or obesity) and early infant feeding, accounting for breastfeeding intentions and supportive hospital practices.
Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of data from a nationally-representative survey of women who gave birth in 2011–2012 in a US hospital (N = 2400). We used logistic regression to examine the relationship between pregnancy complexity and breastfeeding. Self-reported prepregnancy diabetes or hypertension, gestational diabetes, or obesity indicated a complex pregnancy. The outcome was feeding status 1 week postpartum; any breastfeeding was evaluated among women intending to breastfeed (N = 1990), and exclusive breastfeeding among women who intended to exclusively breastfeed (N = 1418). We also tested whether breastfeeding intentions or supportive hospital practices mediated the relationship between pregnancy complexity and infant feeding status.
Results: More than 33% of women had a complex pregnancy; these women had 30% lower odds of intending to breastfeed (AOR = 0.71; 95% CI, 0.52–0.98). Rates of intention to exclusively breastfeed were similar for women with and without complex pregnancies. Women who intended to breastfeed had similar rates of any breastfeeding 1 week postpartum regardless of pregnancy complexity, but complexity was associated with .30% lower odds of exclusive breastfeeding 1 week among women who intended to exclusively breastfeed (AOR = 0.68; 95% CI, 0.47–0.98). Supportive hospital practices were strongly associated with higher odds of any or exclusive breastfeeding 1 week postpartum (AOR = 4.03; 95% CI, 1.81– 8.94; and AOR = 2.68; 95% CI, 1.70–4.23, respectively).
Conclusions: Improving clinical and hospital support for women with complex pregnancies may increase breastfeeding rates and the benefits of breastfeeding for women and infants.
Citation: Kozhimannil KB, Jou J, Attanasio LB, Joarnt LK, McGovern P (2014) Medically Complex Pregnancies and Early Breastfeeding Behaviors: A Retrospective Analysis. PLoS ONE 9(8): e104820. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104820
Editor: Katariina Laine, Oslo University Hospital, Ullevål, Norway
Received April 2, 2014; Accepted July 16, 2014; Published August 13, 2014
Copyright: � 2014 Kozhimannil et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Data Availability: The authors confirm that, for approved reasons, some access restrictions apply to the data underlying the findings. The authors obtained the Listening to Mothers III data from the Childbirth Connection program that commissioned the survey. Prior versions of this survey are freely available for analysis through the Odum Institute Dataverse Network at the University of North Caroline at this location: http://arc.irss.unc.edu/dvn. The data that the authors used for this analysis come from the third wave of the survey which is currently being placed in this public repository.
Funding: This research was supported by a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD; grant number R03HD070868) and the Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health Grant (grant number K12HD055887) from NICHD, the Office of Research on Women’s Health, and the National Institute on Aging, at the National Institutes of Health, administered by the University of Minnesota Deborah E. Powell Center for Women’s Health. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
* Email: [email protected]
Breastfeeding has many advantages to infants . In 2010,
approximately 77% of US infants were breastfed at least once, a
substantial increase from 64% in 1998 [2,3]. Despite this progress,
breastfeeding continues to fall short of national goals for duration
and exclusivity set in initiatives such as Healthy People 2020 [2,4].
One possible reason for failure to consistently meet these goals is
the rise in complications women face as they enter pregnancy,
including diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. Breastfeeding
initiation rates are lower and breastfeeding duration is generally
shorter among women with these conditions [5–8]. Six percent of
births are complicated by diabetes , 3%–5% of pregnant
women have hypertensive disorders [10–12], and 19%–39% of are
obese when they become pregnant . Clinical management of
these conditions and associated complications may necessitate
greater intrapartum or neonatal intervention, which could affect
care for the woman or infant in the immediate postpartum period,
including breastfeeding [14–19].
The decision to breastfeed is highly personal and affected by
many factors, including anticipated barriers to or support for
breastfeeding, hospital practices, medical issues occurring either
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before or during pregnancy, and complications during labor and
delivery [1,20–26]. One program that has been successful in
encouraging breastfeeding is the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative
(BFHI), a global program to encourage and recognize hospitals
that have policies to provide evidence-based care to support infant
feeding and mother-baby bonding [1,20,24,25,27]. The program,
for example, instructs mothers on breastfeeding, allows babies to
spend the first hour after birth in their mothers arms; provides
newborns no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically
indicated; practices ‘‘rooming in’’ by allowing mothers and infants
to remain together 24 hours per day; gives no pacifiers or artificial
nipples to breastfeeding infants; and refer mothers to breastfeeding
support groups on discharge from the hospital or clinic. Greater
adoption of these practices is also a focus of Healthy People 2020
. Yet despite the success of these measures, fewer than 7% of
U.S. births currently occur in facilities with an official BFHI
designation . This study examines the relationship between
entering pregnancy with complicating health conditions and early
infant feeding behaviors, focusing on women’s breastfeeding
intentions and supportive hospital practices as potential mediators.
Materials and Methods
Conceptual Model Figure 1 presents the conceptual model for the analysis. The
model focuses on women’s breastfeeding intentions and hospital
support practices during the intrapartum period and how these
factors and their effects may differ for women who enter
pregnancy with diabetes, hypertension or obesity.
Data Data are from the Listening to Mothers III survey, a nationally
representative sample of women who gave birth to a singleton in a
US hospital between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012 (N = 2400).
The survey was commissioned by Childbirth Connection and
conducted by Harris Interactive between October and December
2012. The survey documented pregnancy, labor, and birth
experiences in US hospitals, including information about breast-
feeding decisions and pre-existing medical conditions. Data from
this survey have been widely used in clinical and public health
research, including studies of breastfeeding and the role of
supportive hospital practices [26,29,30]. However, this was the
first wave of the survey to include information about medical
conditions prior to pregnancy. Detailed information about the
survey’s methodology, implementation, and questionnaires is
available at www.childbirthconnection.org/listeningtomothers/.
The data used in this analysis were de-identified. Therefore, the
University of Minnesota Institutional Review Board granted this
study exemption from review (Study No. 1011E92983).
Variable Measurement Pregnancy Complexity. We defined pregnancy complexity
from available survey data relating to 3 common medical risk
factors: (1) taking prescription medication for blood pressure
during the month before pregnancy, (2) having either type 1 or
type 2 diabetes before pregnancy or gestational diabetes, or (3)
having a prepregnancy body mass index higher than 30. Our main
analysis included a dichotomous measure of pregnancy complexity
for women reporting any of these 3 conditions. We also
constructed indicators for each of the conditions for separate
analysis (see following description of sensitivity analyses).
Breastfeeding Intention. Women were asked at the time of
the survey to recall their intentions about infant feeding at the end
of pregnancy. We created dichotomous variables indicating (1) any
intent to breastfeed (exclusively or not) and (2) women’s intent to
breastfeed exclusively. Supportive hospital practices and infant
feeding status were assessed among women who reported any
intention to breastfeed (n = 1990), and exclusive breast milk
feeding status at 1 week postpartum was assessed among women
who intended to exclusively breastfeed (n = 1418).
Supportive Hospital Practices. Among women who in-
tended to breastfeed, we examined supportive hospital practices
consistent with BFHI standards. We measured supportive hospital
practices using an 8-point composite measure corresponding to 7
of the 10 BFHI steps. Measures for the remaining 3 steps were not
assessed in the Listening to Mothers surveys because they require
knowledge of hospital administrative policies beyond the scope of
women’s knowledge and experiences. However, data from these
Figure 1. Conceptual Model. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104820.g001
Medically Complex Pregnancies and Early Breastfeeding
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surveys have previously been used to successfully approximate
BFHI hospital practices [26,30]. See Table 1 for detailed
information about the 10 BFHI steps and the 8 items assessed in
the data and used in this analysis.
To assess general concordance with supportive breastfeeding
practices in the hospital, we created a composite measure in which
higher scores indicate that the woman perceived a higher level of
breastfeeding-supportive hospital practices. Scores were not
normally distributed, so we constructed a dichotomous variable
on the basis of the top quintile of responses. Scores of 7 to 8 were
categorized as ‘‘high hospital support,’’ indicating practices
broadly consistent with BFHI standards. We also assessed the
distribution of the items in the composite measure and tested the
stability of the measure by modeling hospital support as a
continuous variable (0–8) and by using a lower threshold (i.e.,
scores of 6–8 for high levels of support from the hospital). Results
were robust to alternative specifications.
Feeding Status 1 Week Postpartum. Two dichotomous
measures of infant feeding status were based on women’s responses
to questions regarding (1) whether they were feeding their
newborn any breast milk (either exclusively or in combination
with formula) 1 week postpartum, and (2) whether they were
feeding their newborn breast milk only 1 week postpartum. This
definition allows for both direct breastfeeding and feeding
expressed breast milk to infants.
Control Variables. We controlled for labor and delivery
factors that may affect the initiation of breastfeeding, including
cesarean delivery, epidural use, and admission to a neonatal
intensive-care unit [31–34]. We assessed these variables from
maternal self-report. We also included several self-reported
sociodemographic and birth-related covariates, including age;
race/ethnicity (white, black, Hispanic, or other/multiple race);
education (high school or less, some college, bachelor’s degree, or
graduate education); 4-category census region (Northeast, South,
Midwest, West); nativity (foreign- or US-born); partnership status
(unmarried with no partner, unmarried with partner, or married);
parity (first-time pregnancy); pregnancy intention (unintended or
intended pregnancy); agreement with the statement ‘‘birth is a
process that should not be interfered with unless medically
necessary;’’ doula support; and primary payer for maternity care
(private, public, or out-of-pocket).
Analysis We first explored associations between the predictors, outcomes,
and covariates for the overall sample using 1- and 2-way
tabulation. We used Pearson’s x2 tests to determine whether differences based on pregnancy complexity were statistically
significant. We used logistic regression to estimate the adjusted
odds of breastfeeding intention based on pregnancy complexity.
Among women intending to breastfeed, we estimated the adjusted
odds of breastfeeding status 1 week postpartum. To test for
mediation by hospital support, we added a variable indicating high
levels of support for breastfeeding at the hospital. In the final
multivariate models of breastfeeding status 1 week postpartum, we
included only covariates that were statistically significantly
associated with the outcomes. We conducted sensitivity analyses,
estimating the same regression models using indicator variables for
prepregnancy obesity, hypertension, and diabetes as the predictors
rather than the combined ‘‘complex pregnancy’’ variable; results
were substantively unchanged. All analyses used a p-value of 0.05
to determine statistical significance, were conducted using Stata
v.12, and weighted to be nationally representative.
Table 2 presents the characteristics of the study population by
pregnancy complexity. Overall, 36.3% of respondents had 1 or
more conditions indicating a complex pregnancy (n = 871). About
8% of women were taking blood pressure medications in the
month before pregnancy, 19.7% were obese, and 20.4% were
diagnosed with diabetes prior to or during pregnancy. There was
some overlap between conditions, particularly for diabetes and
hypertension (r = 0.25), diabetes and obesity, (r = 0.09), and for hypertension and obesity (r = 0.04).
Table 3 shows the distribution of breastfeeding intentions,
supportive hospital practices, and infant feeding outcomes by
Table 1. Baby Friendly Health Initiative Composite Measure Components.
Baby Friendly Hospital Practices Corresponding question(s) used to construct Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative Composite measure
Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth. Baby spent 1st hour in mother’s arms.
Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
Hospital staff helped get started breastfeeding.
Hospital staff showed how to position baby for breastfeeding.
Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
Hospital staff did not provide water or formula supplements.
Practice ‘‘rooming in’’—allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours per day.
Baby roomed with mother.
Encourage breastfeeding on demand. Hospital staff encouraged breastfeeding on demand.
Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants. Hospital staff did not give baby a pacifier.
Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.
Hospital staff told about breastfeeding resources in the community.
Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy. Not Applicable
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pregnancy complexity. In bivariate associations, women with
complex pregnancies were less likely to report that they intended
to breastfeed (77.2% intended to do so) than women without
complex pregnancies, (83.3%; P = .012) but there was no difference between groups in intention to exclusively breastfeed
(55.7% vs. 51.0%). Overall levels of hospital breastfeeding support
among women who intended to breastfeed differed by pregnancy
complexity, with 14.8% of women with complex pregnancies
reporting high levels of hospital support, compared with 20.4% of
women without complex pregnancies (P = .030). The only two statistically significant findings among the specific support
measures were that women with complex pregnancies were less
likely to report that their baby had spent the first hour after birth
in their arms (P = .017) and that the hospital staff had helped them to start breastfeeding (P = .008). Among women planning to breastfeed, about 90% reported feeding their newborn either
partially or exclusively breast milk 1 week postpartum, regardless
of pregnancy complexity. Of those who intended to breastfeed
exclusively, 79.5% of those without complex pregnancies and
69.4% of those with complex pregnancies were doing so
(P = .002).
Table 2. Percentage of Women in the Study Sample (N = 2400), With a Specific Characteristic, by Pregnancy Complexity.
No Yes P Value
Total 63.7 36.3 —
Age category .667
18–24 31.9 31.6
25–29 27.3 30.1
30–34 25.7 23.1
35+ 15.0 15.2
White 57.8 48.8
Black 13.9 17.9
Hispanic 22.2 24.8
Other/multiple race 6.2 8.5
High school or less 40.0 46.2
Some college/associate’s degree 28.9 28.0
Bachelor’s degree 18.4 16.9
Graduate education/degree 12.8 8.9
Northeast 14.5 16.4
Midwest 23.5 21.2
South 38.8 41.2
West 23.2 21.2
Foreign born 8.0 5.4 .107
Partnership status .003
Unmarried with no partner 5.9 11.5
Unmarried with partner 32.7 29.7
Married 61.4 58.8
First-time mother 39.5 42.9 .249
Unintended pregnancy 36.1 34.1 .487
Belief that childbirth is a process that should only be interfered with if medically necessary 58.7 57.9 .797
Had doula support during labor 5.3 7.0 .281
Health Insurance Status .045
Private 48.2 40.6
Public 44.3 50.5
Out-of-pocket 7.5 8.8
Note: Percentages are weighted to be nationally representative. Bold values indicate statistically significant difference (P#.05). P values are based on Pearson’s x2 tests. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104820.t002
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After controlling for sociodemographic and other factors
(Table 4), women with more complex pregnancies were approx-
imately 30% less likely to intend to breastfeed at all (adjusted odds
ratio [AOR] = 0.71; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.52–0.98),
compared with women who had no complications entering
pregnancy. However, pregnancy complexity had no independent
association with intention to breastfeed exclusively.
In multivariate analysis we found no relationship between
complex pregnancy and whether the infant was being fed breast
milk exclusively or partially 1 week postpartum (Table 5) after
controlling for the same sociodemographic and clinical covariates.
In subsequent models, we also controlled for supportive hospital
practices to examine potential mediation. Babies whose mothers
received high levels of hospital support for breastfeeding were 4
times more likely to receive at least some breast milk 1 week
postpartum. Among women who intended to exclusively breast-
feed, those with complex pregnancies had more than 30% lower
odds of feeding their infants breast milk only (AOR = 0.68; 95%
CI, 0.47–0.98). High levels of hospital support for breastfeeding
were associated with nearly 3 times the odds of exclusive
breastfeeding 1 week postpartum (AOR = 2.79; 95% CI, 1.77–
4.39). When these factors were included simultaneously, the
association between pregnancy complexity and lower odds of
exclusive breastfeeding remained similar (AOR = 0.69; 95% CI,
The study examined the effect of entering pregnancy with
medical complications on infant feeding practices among those
who intended to breastfeed either at all or exclusively, and the
influence of hospital practices on those decisions. Women with
hypertension or diabetes or those who were obese when they
became pregnant were less likely to intend to breastfeed than
women whose pregnancies were not complicated by these
Table 3. Percentage of Women in the Study Population (N = 2400) With Specific Breastfeeding Behaviors, as Well as Intentions and Hospital Support, by Pregnancy Complexity.
No Yes P Value
Breastfeeding intentions (among all women n = 2400)
Intention to breastfeed, any 83.3 77.2 .012
Intention to breastfeed, exclusive 55.7 51 .115
Hospital Breastfeeding Support Composite Measure (among women planning to breastfeed, n = 1990)
Low (0–6 steps) 79.6 85.2
High (7–8 steps) 20.4 14.8 .030
Hospital Breastfeeding Support Composite Measure Components
Baby in mother’s arms during 1st hour after birth 51.4 43.4 .017
Baby roomed in with mother 63.6 59.4 .193
Hospital staff helped start breastfeeding 81.6 74.4 .008
Hospital staff showed how to position baby for breastfeeding 64.8 62.4 .432
Hospital encouraged breastfeeding on demand 66.4 64.6 .570
Hospital staff did NOT provide water or formula supplements 65.6 61.2 .298
Hospital staff gave information on community resources 52.2 48.7 .294
Hospital staff did NOT give baby a pacifier 58.4 62.2 .245
Outcomes: Infant Feeding 1 Week Postpartum (among women intending to breastfeed)
Breastfeeding at 1 week, any (n = 1990) 91.9 89.0 .156
Breastfeeding at 1 week, exclusive (n = 1418) 79.5 69.4 .002
Note: Percentages are weighted to be nationally representative. Bold values indicate statistically significant difference (P#.05). P values are based on Pearson’s x2 tests. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104820.t003
Table 4. Controlled Odds of Breastfeeding Intentions by Pregnancy Complexity (N = 2400).
Any intention to breastfeed
AOR 95% CI
Complex pregnancy 0.71 (0.52–0.98)
Intention to exclusively breastfeed
AOR 95% CI
Complex pregnancy 0.90 (0.70–1.16)
Note: Models are weighted to be nationally representative. Models control for age, race/ethnicity, education, census region, nativity, partnership status, parity, unintended pregnancy, birth attitudes, and health insurance status. Bold text indicates statistically significant (P#.05). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104820.t004
Medically Complex Pregnancies and Early Breastfeeding
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conditions. Our results also show that women with complex
pregnancies who planned to exclusively breastfeed were substan-
tially less likely to do so 1 week postpartum than women without
pregnancy complications, even after accounting for supportive
The findings point to clear opportunities for intervention and
support during pregnancy and immediately after giving birth.
Obstetricians, midwives, family physicians, and pediatricians
should be aware that women with complex pregnancies are less
likely to plan to breastfeed and are less likely to receive
recommended hospital-based support.
Multiple research studies and systematic reviews confirm that
simply counseling women to breastfeed is not sufficient for
encouraging women to breastfeed; rather, tailored support offered
both prenatally and postpartum is most effective in supporting
pregnant women to set and attain breastfeeding goals [35–37].
Clinicians should discuss breastfeeding intentions when establish-
ing relationships with patients prenatally, including consultation
on plans for the use of anti-diabetic or anti-hypertensive
medications compatible with a mother’s intentions, and follow
up to ensure that women with complicated pregnancies have
access to breastfeeding support in the hospital . It is also
important to address breastfeeding intentions and provide
encouragement and support at the time of delivery, given that
delivery third of US women lack a prior relationship with the
clinician attending their delivery . Providing encouragement
and support at the time of delivery may be particularly important
for women with complex pregnancies who may be transferred to
higher acuity care teams at delivery [40–42]. The results of our
analysis suggest that women who are nonwhite, less educated,
unmarried with no partner, and using public health insurance are
more likely to be obese or to develop hypertension or diabetes
prior to pregnancy, so it may be helpful to target outreach and
support efforts to these groups.
Our findings are consistent with prior research showing that
BFHI-consistent hospital practices help to promote early breast-
feeding success [24–27]. Women who reported a high number of
BFHI-consistent hospital practices were 3 times more likely to
exclusively breastfeed than were those who reported a lower
number of BFHI-consistent practices. Women who entered
pregnancy with hypertension, diabetes, or obesity were signifi-
cantly less likely to report experiencing the BFHI-consistent
hospital practices of having their baby in their arms during the first
hour after birth and having hospital staff help them start
breastfeeding. Therefore, hospitals and clinicians alike should
pay particular attention to showing women with complex
pregnancies how to breastfeed (including expressing breast milk
for bottle or syringe feeding ) and supporting early breastfeed-
ing efforts, including after cesarean delivery [44,45].
Breastfeeding support should be incorporated into clinical and
hospital policies, with emphasis on women with complex
pregnancies . Postpartum care management or obstetric/
neonatal discharge guidelines for obese women and those with
diabetes or hypertension could explicitly include discussions of
breastfeeding and information about community-based resources.
In addition, compliance with BFHI steps should be promoted in
more hospitals, consistent with the federal Healthy People 2020
goals, as should practices that have been shown to improve
breastfeeding outcomes despite not being part of the BFHI scale,
such as skin-to-contact between women and their infants
immediately after birth [47,48]. Hospital should also be aware
of well-intentioned practices to support breastfeeding that women
may in fact experience negatively. Hands-on-breast approaches to
breastfeeding support, for instance, may be considered unpleasant
and disrespectful by some women . Hospitals and staff should
continue to maintain open communication with women about the
best ways to support their breastfeeding intentions.
Limitations Although providing a rich source of data on breastfeeding from
a patient perspective, the Listening to Mothers surveys have
certain limitations that warrant discussion. These data are based
on retrospective self-reports, leaving room for potential recall bias
and social desirability bias. Although the survey contained some
information about health conditions, assessment of these condi-
tions is based on maternal self-report. In addition to the
complications we included in our analysis, other maternal, fetal,
and neonatal medical conditions or complications that arise during
labor and delivery could also be associated with breastfeeding
intention and practices. Finally, our construction of the BFHI
composite measure relied on maternal perception of proxies for 7
of the 10 BFHI steps. However, several of the 10 BFHI steps
include questions about hospital policy, of which many women
may not be aware.
Breastfeeding is beneficial for women and infants, and medical
contraindications are rare. Complications that occur during
pregnancy, labor, and delivery may hinder breastfeeding, but
Table 5. Controlled Odds of Infant Feeding Status at 1 Week by Pregnancy Complexity and Supportive Hospital Practices.
Any Breastfeeding 1 Week Postpartum (n = 1990)
AOR 95% CI AOR 95% CI
Complex pregnancy 0.81 (0.49–1.34) 0.82 (0.50–1.36)
High supportive hospital practices 4.03 (1.81–8.94)
Exclusive Breastfeeding 1 Week Postpartum (n = 1418)
AOR 95% CI AOR 95% CI
Complex pregnancy 0.68 (0.47–0.98) 0.69 (0.48–1.00)
High supportive hospital practices 2.68 (1.70–4.23)
Note: Models are weighted to be nationally representative. Models control for age, race/ethnicity, education, census region, nativity, partnership status, parity, unintended pregnancy, birth attitudes, health insurance status, cesarean delivery and doula support. Bold text indicates statistically significant (P#.05). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104820.t005
Medically Complex Pregnancies and Early Breastfeeding
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supportive hospital practices may facilitate breastfeeding for
women who intend to breastfeed.
We distinguished breastfeeding intentions and early feeding
patterns for women with complex pregnancies and found lower
odds of intending to breastfeed and decreased chances of early
exclusive breastfeeding, even after accounting for supportive
hospital practices, which were associated with greater breastfeed-
ing success. Therefore, it is important to support women with
medically complex pregnancies in overcoming potential challenges
The authors are grateful for helpful input provided by Eugene Declercq,
PhD; Valerie Flaherman, MD, MPH; Dwenda Gjerdingen, MD; Pamela
Jo Johnson, PhD, MPH; and Carol Sakala, PhD.
Conceived and designed the experiments: KBK LBA PM. Performed the
experiments: LBA JJ LKJ. Analyzed the data: LBA JJ KBK. Contributed
reagents/materials/analysis tools: KBK PM. Contributed to the writing of
the manuscript: KBK LBA JJ LKJ.
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PLOS ONE | www.plosone.org 7 August 2014 | Volume 9 | Issue 8 | e104820