A mother's personality can affect whether she decides to breastfeed, according to a new study.
Researchers surveyed more than 600 mothers with infants aged 6 to 12 months and found that those who were more extroverted and less anxious were more likely to breastfeed and to continue breastfeeding than those who were introverted or anxious.
Introverted women felt more self-conscious about breastfeeding in front of others and were more likely to formula feed because other people wanted them to, said study author Amy Brown of Swansea University in Wales. Anxious mothers found breastfeeding was more difficult and felt that they couldn't get the support they needed.
The study, published online Aug. 6 in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, suggests that new mothers who are introverted or anxious may need additional support and education to help them feel confident, self-assured and knowledgeable about breastfeeding.
"The important message from the findings is that some mothers may face more challenges with breastfeeding based on their wider personality," Brown said in a journal news release. "Although they may want to breastfeed, more introverted or anxious mothers may need further support in boosting their confidence and learning about how to solve problems, and they may need encouragement to make sure they access the breastfeeding support services that are available."
Breastfeeding benefits the health of both mother and baby. Breastfed babies have lower rates of infections and allergies and are less likely to be overweight. Recent research suggests they may also have a higher IQ in their early school years compared to children who weren't breastfed. Mothers who breastfeed are also less likely to develop certain cancers, according to the news release.
Introverts tend to be inward-looking people, while extroverts are considered outgoing and gregarious.
The U.S. Office on Women's Health has more about breastfeeding.