• The study of factors affecting breastfeeding uptake and duration within Somali women

      Psarou, Katie; Diab, Huda (University of Chester, 2010-04)
      It is widely recognized that human breast-milk is optimal for the normal healthy growth and development of the infant. A wide range of literature is available with evidence clearly demonstrating the benefits of breastfeeding and the impact of exclusive breastfeeding on the baby. Despite this breastfeeding initiation rates in the UK remain amongst the lowest in Europe and especially in the North West of England. The basis of this research was to unveil the factors which relate to breastfeeding uptake and duration, and also to find out whether or not these agree with previous findings. Participants were recruited from ‘Somali Women’s’ community centres in Liverpool. Results were obtained through two focus groups. Findings from focus group 1 show that although most women choose to breastfed initially, half of the participants had to stop within six months due to starting another pregnancy. In some cases the women felt mix-feeding was more efficient because the baby appeared to remain hungry between feeding times when fed solely on breast milk. A combination of both self determination and family support lead to a longer breastfeeding duration amongst this group. Results from focus group 2 were similar but most participants spoke very poor English leading to a language barrier between them and the hospital staff. All participants were of Muslim faith; and religion played a key factor in their determination to continue breast feeding up to six months and longer. Findings from this study in line with previous investigations, illustrated the need for better communication, with and education of, pregnant mothers to give them a greater understanding of the benefits of breast feeding. Findings show that there are many determinants to long-term breastfeeding and parents need to work together when infant feeding choices are made. Antenatal support influences long-term decisions. Private places for women need to be made more readily available for breastfeeding women outside of their homes, and further flexibility provided for working mothers.