Factors contributing to early breast-feeding cessation among Chinese mothers: An exploratory study

Marie Tarrant, Joan E. Dodgson, Kendra M. Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: although more than 85% of all new mothers in Hong Kong now initiate breast feeding, few exclusively breast feed and the overall duration is short. More than one-third stop breast feeding within the first month post partum. Objective: to explore the breast-feeding experiences of Hong Kong Chinese mothers who prematurely discontinue breast feeding and to identify contributing factors that might be remediated to help women breast feed longer. Design: qualitative exploratory study. Methods: in-depth, exploratory interviews were carried out with 24 new mothers who stopped breast feeding within one month after birth, and content analysis was used to analyse the data. Findings: five core themes emerged from the data: unnatural expectations, left to figure it out, uncertainty, unfulfilling experiences, and guilt versus relief. Because breast feeding is 'natural' participants expected that it would come naturally and thus be easy. When breast feeding did not happen naturally, however, midwives were too busy to provide breast-feeding support and mothers were left to figure it out on their own. Participants also reported difficulty in gauging whether the infant was getting adequate nutrition from their breastmilk. Few participants had positive breast-feeding experiences; while the decision to stop breast feeding caused guilt for most participants, others expressed relief at stopping breast feeding. Key conclusions and implications for practice: greater postnatal breast-feeding support, both in the hospital and after the mother returns home, would likely increase the mother[U+05F3]s confidence and enhance her mothering experience. Further antenatal and postnatal education on the realistic breast-feeding expectations and the amount of breastmilk required by babies is also important. More research is needed to test professional and peer support breast-feeding interventions to provide guidance to policy makers on the most effective breast-feeding support strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1088-1095
Number of pages8
JournalMidwifery
Volume30
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014

Keywords

  • Breast feeding
  • Cessation
  • Chinese mothers
  • Post partum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery

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