Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Effie Hanchett


The goal of this study was to identify the benefits of breast-feeding for the mother, in order to facilitate continuing to breast-feed to 6 months. A theory of participation in an enlightening experience was deduced from the theory of enlightenment which was derived from Rogers' science of unitary human beings. Duration of breast-feeding was selected as the enlightening experience. A theory testing correlational descriptive design was used to test the relationships between and among duration of breast-feeding and the main study concepts of awareness, wakefulness, human field motion and well-being. A causal model, although from a different worldview, was developed inductively in order to identify the contribution of maternal stress, maternal support and spiritual involvement to the variance in the main study variables. A cross sectional nonexperimental explanatory design was used to test this model. A random sample of 399 mothers of 6-month-old infants was obtained resulting in a 53% response rate, a power of .99 and 323 mothers who had exclusively breastfed. Strong support was found for the relationships among and between main study variables and hence for the theory of enlightenment. Duration of breast-feeding was found to be (p ≤ .05) related to well-being and to awareness when four outliers were removed. The variables in the causal model explained 27% of the variance in wellbeing. New findings included a significant positive relationship between awareness and human field motion and higher spiritual involvement and longer hours of sleeping for mothers who breast-fed for 6 months as compared to those who formula fed. Recommendations were made to support the development of Rogers I conceptual model and to promote the health of infants and families.