"The kind of support that matters to exclusive breastfeeding" a qualitative study.

Affiliation

Theodorah DZ(1), Mc'Deline RN(2).
Author information:
(1)Department of Nursing Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Fort Hare, 50 Church Street, Eastern Cape, East London, South Africa. [Email]
(2)Department of Nursing Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Fort Hare, 50 Church Street, Eastern Cape, East London, South Africa.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Worldwide, only 41 % of infants are exclusively breastfed for the first six months while South Africa has an alarming figure of only 12 %. First-time mothers are inexperienced in the initiation and maintenance of exclusive breastfeeding, hence a need for support. Data on forms and quality of exclusive breastfeeding support as experienced by first-time mothers is minimal. The study explored the exclusive breastfeeding support available to first-time mothers in the Buffalo City Metro, South Africa. METHODS: A qualitative explorative, descriptive and contextual study, and a non-probability, purposive sampling was used with 10 first-time mothers within the first six months postpartum. The in-depth face-to-face semi-structured individual interviews for data collection and Creswell's steps of thematic analysis were used. RESULTS: Two themes emerged; challenges, empowerment, support and resilience during initiation of exclusive breastfeeding, and diverse support and resilience during maintenance of exclusive breastfeeding. First-time mothers received practical support majorly from nurses and other mothers during the initiation; social support was from family members, friends, and community members for the maintenance of exclusive breastfeeding. Sometimes there was a disjuncture between practical support from nurses and that from family members and the community. There were instances where the support was needed but not given or not supportive of exclusive breastfeeding. CONCLUSIONS: These findings illustrate that professional, practical and social support for first-time mothers is crucial in the initiation and maintenance of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. Timing and the kind of support given to these mothers is crucial for successful exclusive breastfeeding.