OBJECTIVE:

To evaluate a specialized breastfeeding peer counseling (SBFPC) intervention promoting exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) among overweight/obese, low-income women.

METHODS:

We recruited 206 pregnant, overweight/obese, low-income women and randomly assigned them to receive SBFPC or standard care (controls) at a Baby-Friendly hospital. SBFPC included 3 prenatal visits, daily in-hospital support, and up to 11 postpartum home visits promoting EBF and addressing potential obesity-related breastfeeding barriers. Standard care involved routine access to breastfeeding support from hospital personnel, including staff peer counselors. Data collection included an in-hospital interview, medical record review, and monthly telephone calls through 6 months postpartum to assess infant feeding practices, demographics, and health outcomes. Bivariate and logistic regression analyses were conducted.

RESULTS:

The intervention had no impact on EBF or breastfeeding continuation at 1, 3, or 6 months postpartum. In adjusted posthoc analyses, at 2 weeks postpartum the intervention group had significantly greater odds of continuing any breastfeeding (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 3.76 [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.07–13.22]), and giving at least 50% of feedings as breast milk (aOR: 4.47 [95% CI: 1.38–14.5]), compared with controls. Infants in the intervention group had significantly lower odds of hospitalization during the first 6 months after birth (aOR: 0.24 [95% CI: 0.07–0.86]).

CONCLUSIONS:

In a Baby-Friendly hospital setting, SBFPC targeting overweight/obese women did not impact EBF practices but was associated with increased rates of any breastfeeding and breastfeeding intensity at 2 weeks postpartum and decreased rates of infant hospitalization in the first 6 months after birth.

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