• We used the critical incidence method to study factors motivating 33 primigravidas and 39 multigravidas to initiate breast-feeding of their infants. Women chose breast-feeding because they believed that it would provide protection to the infant against infection, establish maternal-infant bonding, was convenient, provided better nutrition than cow's milk formula, was emotionally satisfying, and was the natural way to feed infants. The decision to breast-feed was made well in advance of pregnancy by primigravidas and shortly before pregnancy by multigravidas. Friends who had successfully nursed infants were as influential as immediate family members in influencing our study subjects in their decision to breast-feed. Prenatal counseling, though important, may not be the optimal period for motivating women to breast-feed.
(Am J Dis Child 1983;137:375-377)