Predictors and impact of women's breastfeeding self-efficacy and postnatal care in the context of a pandemic in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand

Linda Sweet, Amanda Muller, Lauren Kearney, Ruth Martis, Nicki Hartney, Kym Davey, Rea Daellenbach, Helen Hall, Marjorie Atchan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To investigate predictors of breastfeeding self-efficacy, postnatal care experiences, and there subsequent impact on breastfeeding outcomes in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Design: A cross-sectional online survey collected data between August and October 2020 with recruitment via social media. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive analyses, and linear and logistic regression analysis related to the Breastfeeding Self-Efficacy Scale-Short Form findings. Open text responses were analyzed using content analysis. 

Findings: There were 1001 complete responses. Visitor restrictions impacted the woman's early parenting experience in both positive and negative ways. One third of participants stated their postnatal needs were not met with 82 stating that they had no postnatal care at all. During the first six weeks postnatal, 48.1% felt not very or not at all confident caring for their baby. Despite 94.3% of participants initiating breastfeeding, only 70% were exclusively breastfeeding at six weeks. The mean self-efficacy score was 49.98 suggesting the need for additional help, with first time mothers having a statistically significant lower score. 

Discussion/conclusion: Sub-optimal postnatal care and support negatively influence breastfeeding self-efficacy. Women desired additional help during the COVID-19 pandemic inclusive of support and education to meet their postnatal needs and exclusively breastfeed. 

Implications for practice: Women require appropriate and timely postnatal care and support to promote confidence in caring for baby and achieve their breastfeeding goals. Preferably this care should be provided face-to-face.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103462
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • Breast feeding
  • COVID-19
  • Infant feeding
  • Parenting
  • Perinatal care
  • Postnatal care
  • Self-efficacy


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