Perception of Insufficient Milk in a WIC Sample


Paper Presentation


Our long-term goal in the United States is to improve breastfeeding exclusivity and duration rates for low-income women receiving services from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Women who receive WIC services breastfeed their infants for significantly shorter durations, and improving their breastfeeding duration is a national priority. Many women cite the perception of insufficient milk as the reason for early cessation. However, the association between perception of insufficient milk and socioeconomic and demographic variables for low-income women has not been addressed in the literature. The purpose of this descriptive-correlational study was to examine maternal and infant factors related to the reason for discontinuing breastfeeding for WIC participants.


Secondary data analysis of existing longitudinal survey and administrative data.


Chicago-area community health center and WIC clinic.


Two hundred thirty-nine WIC participants who initiated breastfeeding.


Selected components of the Interaction Model of Client Health Behavior guided the inclusion of potential predictors related to the reason for discontinuing breastfeeding. The authors used descriptive statistics and logistic regression to analyze how maternal and infant characteristics (demographic, social, health-related, environmental, motivational, cognitive, and affective) influenced the reason for breastfeeding cessation.


The duration of breastfeeding was low, with an estimated 31% continuing to breastfeed at 6 months and 6% continuing to breastfeed at 12 months. Of the 239 women in this sample who provided a reason for discontinuing breastfeeding, 43% (n = 111) reported perception of insufficient milk as the reason. The majority of women who reported perception of insufficient milk did so within the first 3 months of breastfeeding (55%). Women who reported perception of insufficient milk were more likely to be of Hispanic descent. Additional analysis is on-going.

Conclusion/Implications for Nursing Practice

Though WIC women initiate breastfeeding, the national recommendation for breastfeeding duration is not being met in this population. Additionally, many women stop breastfeeding early due to perception of insufficient milk. Findings from this study will be used to develop and test interventions to reduce the incidence of perception of insufficient milk and increase breastfeeding duration in this vulnerable population.