This study examined a moderated mediation model of relations among maternal perinatal stress/anxiety, breastfeeding difficulties (mediator), misperceptions of infant crying (moderator), and maternal breastfeeding duration to understand risk factors for early breastfeeding termination. It was hypothesized that more breastfeeding difficulties would mediate the relation between greater prenatal stress/anxiety and shorter breastfeeding duration, and that perceptions of response to infant crying as spoiling would moderate the relation between more breastfeeding difficulties and reduced breastfeeding duration. Additionally, it was hypothesized that participants who breastfed through 6 months would demonstrate less postnatal stress/anxiety and there would be a positive relation between fewer breastfeeding difficulties and less postnatal stress/anxiety through 6 months. Participants included 94 expectant mothers at 33–37 weeks gestation and 6 months (±2 weeks) postpartum. Greater prenatal anxiety was associated with shorter breastfeeding duration. Results presented are the first to document negative relations between prenatal (as opposed to postnatal) anxiety and breastfeeding duration (as opposed to frequency or other indicators) in a U.S. sample. Future studies should seek to replicate findings in a more diverse sample and compare findings from clinical and non-clinical samples. Studies may also wish to explore the effects of anxiety prevention/intervention on breastfeeding duration.
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