Decreased Full Breastfeeding, Altered Practices, Perceptions, and Infant Weight Change of Prepregnant Obese Women

Elise Mok, Clarisse Multon, Lorraine Piguel, Emmanuelle Barroso, Valérie Goua, Patricia Christin, Marie-José Perez and Régis Hankard

PEDIATRICS Vol. 121 No. 5 May 2008, pp. e1319-e1324


OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this work was to compare breastfeeding practices, perceptions, and infant weight change of prepregnant obese versus normal-weight mothers in the first 3 months postpartum.

PATIENTS AND METHODS. For the prospective case-control study, obese mothers (prepregnant BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2) were matched with normal-weight mothers (18.5 ≤ prepregnant BMI < 25 kg/m2) according to initial infant feeding, parity, maternal age, ethnicity, and education. Participants completed an oral questionnaire in the hospital and a telephone interview at 1 and 3 months postpartum.

RESULTS. Of 1432 mothers who had given birth at a university hospital in France, 10% were obese. Breastfeeding initiation was lower for obese (48%) versus normal-weight (64%) mothers. A total of 111 of 141 obese mothers were paired with 111 normal-weight mothers. Infant birth weight was similar for newborns of obese and normal-weight mothers. Among mothers who initiated breastfeeding, infant weight gain from 0 to 1 month was lower in breastfed infants of obese mothers compared to normal-weight mothers. Obese mothers were less likely to maintain full breastfeeding at 1 month and 3 months. The percentage of mothers breastfeeding to any extent did not differ between obese and reference women. Obese mothers more often felt uncomfortable breastfeeding in public at 3 months. Fewer obese mothers perceived that their milk supply was sufficient at 1 month and 3 months. Despite greater breastfeeding difficulties, obese mothers were less likely to seek support for breastfeeding in the first 3 months postpartum.

CONCLUSIONS. Pediatricians and health professionals should recognize that obese mothers have different breastfeeding practices and perceptions. Extra support and intervention are needed among obese mothers during prenatal and early postnatal periods so that their children can benefit from breastfeeding.

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