There is a dearth of information on the long-term maternal effects of breastfeeding. The objective of this study was to examine adherence to breastfeeding recommendations of exclusive breastfeeding for ≥4 months and continuation of breastfeeding for ≥1 year and maternal weight retention 6 years after delivery.
Using data from the Infant Feeding Practices Study II (IFPS II), we categorized women by the degree to which they met breastfeeding recommendations. Mothers’ self-reported weight 6 years after delivery (IFPS Year 6 Follow-Up) was compared with self-reported prepregnancy weight from IFPS II. Using linear regression models, adjusting for covariates, we examined associations between breastfeeding recommendation adherence and weight retention.
Of the 726 women in our study, 17.9% never breastfed. Among those who initiated breastfeeding, 29.0% breastfed exclusively for ≥4 months, and 20.3% breastfed exclusively for ≥4 months and continued breastfeeding for ≥12 months. Prepregnancy BMI modified the association between breastfeeding recommendation adherence and weight retention. Adjusting for covariates, we found no association between breastfeeding recommendations adherence and weight retention among normal and overweight mothers. Among obese mothers, there was a significant linear trend (P = .03), suggesting that those who fully adhered to breastfeeding recommendations retained less weight (−8.0 kg) than obese women who never breastfed.
This study suggests that improving adherence to breastfeeding recommendations may help reduce long-term maternal weight retention among obese mothers. Larger studies, with diverse populations and similar longitudinal designs, are needed to explore this relationship.