Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)


Interdisciplinary Studies


Danielle Dallaire

Committee Members

Christy Porter

Peter Vishton

Joseph Jones


The psychological effects of breastfeeding may be especially beneficial to incarcerated mothers, who are an at-risk population. The current study examines factors impacting breastfeeding initiation among a sample of women who have experience with incarceration. In the first study, 117 incarcerated pregnant women participated in the William and Mary Healthy Beginnings Project, a research and intervention program that works with local correctional facilities to improve the birth outcomes of pregnant inmates. Results reveal that factors associated with incarceration, such as delivering in jail, longer duration of incarceration during pregnancy, and being shackled during delivery, significantly impacted decisions not to initiate breastfeeding. Mothers who received Medicaid and who maintained unhealthy diets were also less likely to initiate breastfeeding. In the second study, 18 of the Healthy Beginnings participants were recruited for the Healthy Beginnings Follow-Up Study, which provided a qualitative analysis of breastfeeding initiation. The Follow-Up Study suggests that jail protocol, lack of breastfeeding support and education, and certain beliefs about breastfeeding were associated with low breastfeeding initiation. This follow-up indicates that to increase rates of breastfeeding initiation among incarcerated mothers, jails should implement protocols that facilitate breastfeeding and provide comprehensive prenatal services that encourage breastfeeding.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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