Honors Program

University Honors

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Judy McCook

Thesis Professor Department


Thesis Reader(s)

Audrey Greenwell, Jennifer Stewart-Glenn


Current literature overwhelmingly supports the benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and infants. Numerous studies significantly correlate specific demographics and background factors of breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding mothers. However, little research has focused on the intendedness of the pregnancy and its association with breastfeeding. The goal of this study was to examine the association between pregnancy intendedness and breastfeeding plans and behavior. The first question of interest examined was whether pregnancy intent was associated with a woman’s intent to exclusively breastfeed when asked during the third trimester, after control for potentially confounding differences between the two groups. The second question of interest was whether pregnancy intendedness predicted exclusive breastfeeding initiation after control for potentially confounding background variables. Data analysis was completed on a group of women who were part of the Tennessee Intervention for Pregnant Smokers (TIPS) program. The participants were recruited from six prenatal provider offices in Northeast Tennessee. There were 509 women who participated but only 379 women were used in this study due to lack of data on the variables of interest. The study showed that pregnancy intendedness was significantly associated with intent and initiation of breastfeeding after controlling for background factors. Women who planned their pregnancies were two thirds more likely than those who did not to indicate intent to exclusively breastfeed. Also, women who planned their pregnancies were one third more likely to initiate breastfeeding in the postpartum period than women who did not plan their pregnancies. This association is important in the clinical setting because usually women decide whether or not they will breastfeed before delivery. Therefore, healthcare providers can intervene by providing patients with education on the benefits of breastfeeding early in the prenatal period to support increased rates of breastfeeding initiation.

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


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Nursing Commons