Background:The study objective was to gain information about factors that contribute to the successful establishment of breastfeeding in first-time mothers while they are still in the maternity hospital. The study was part of a wider longitudinal project that examined the development of first-time mothers into motherhood during eight months after the birth.Methods:Data were collected by a questionnaire distributed between January and May 1995. The sample comprised 326 first-time mothers, who completed the questionnaires on about the fifth day after childbirth. A polychotomic logistic regression analysis was applied.Results:Mothers who had a positive experience of breastfeeding in the maternity ward and who began lactating 2 to 3 days postpartum coped better with breastfeeding than those whose experience was less positive and who lactated later. Moreover, the greater the emotional (affect) and concrete (aid) support received by the mother from members of her support network, the better she coped with breastfeeding. By contrast, those mothers who were upset while in the maternity ward coped less well with breastfeeding.Conclusions:Establishing successful breastfeeding in first-time mothers requires the professional guidance and support of the maternity staff and paying attention to the person closest to the new mother, who in this study was the spouse or father of the child. (BIRTH 25:3 September 1998)