Open Access Research article

What factors explain pregnant women’s feeding intentions in Bradford, England: A multi-methods, multi-ethnic study

Baltica Cabieses12*, Dagmar Waiblinger1, Gillian Santorelli1 and Rosemary RC McEachan1

  • * Corresponding author: Baltica Cabieses

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 Bradford Institute for Health Research, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Bradford Royal Infirmary England, Temple Bank House Bradford Royal Infirmary, Duckworth Lane Bradford BD9 6RJ, England, UK

2 Universidad del Desarrollo Clínica Alemana Chile, Avenida La Plaza 680 San Carlos de Apoquindo, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2014, 14:50  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-50

Published: 28 January 2014



Using a multi-methods approach we aimed to explore the relative prediction of demographic, socioeconomic and modifiable predictors from the Theory of Planned behaviour (TPB) in explaining feeding intentions amongst a multi-ethnic sample.


476 women completed a questionnaire at 28 weeks gestation. They were grouped into breastfeeding (N = 258), mixed-feeding (N = 50), bottle-feeding (N = 88) intenders, or a no clear intention (N = 88). Multinomial adjusted regressions explored the influence of modifiable TPB factors, along with ethnicity and socioeconomic status in predicting group membership. Free-text responses allowed women to elaborate on reasons behind their intention.


TPB factors were significant predictors of feeding intention. Women with high intention to breastfeed were less likely to report high attitudes in any other feeding alternative. Bottle-feeding intenders reported poorer self-efficacy regarding breastfeeding compared to breastfeeding intenders (prevalence rate ratio, PRR = 0.10). Mixed and bottle-feeding intenders reported greater self-efficacy for mixed-feeding (PRR = 1.80, 5.50 respectively). Descriptive norms for mixed (PRR = 13.77) and bottle-feeding (PRR = 10.68) were predictive of mixed-feeding intention. Reasons for breastfeeding intentions related to health considerations, whilst bottle-feeding reasons related to convenience. Mixed-feeding intenders reported both breast and bottle-related factors.


Understanding modifiable predictors related to feeding intentions like TPB factors can help professionals target appropriate interventions to encourage breastfeeding.

Theory of planned behaviour (TPB); Feeding intentions; Ethnicity; Multi-methods design; Breastfeeding; Bottle-feeding; Mix-feeding; UK