Cultivating better breastfeeding habits means respecting cultural beliefs while supporting families to consider evidence based best practices. It relies on forming relationships, slowing down the conversations to uncover the beliefs and circumstances unique to each mother, and utilizing a series of small steps of change to uncover what might be possible.
Humans are the only species that also looks at breasts within a cultural perspective, and that perspective is where the debate of breastfeeding occurs. There is really no debate that if given the option to breastfeed, breastfeeding is the best choice for the development of infants due to the fact that breast milk has been adapted for the human physique.
Cultural aspects of breastfeeding. Historical, family, cultural and ethnic background shaped their breastfeeding experience for many of the women. Several talked about the bottle feeding culture of previous generations in the United Kingdom and how they hoped that their daughters would go on to breastfeed because of the example that they had set. One woman talked about the divide between the breastfeeding and bottle feeding culture …
In some rural towns in Japan, it is common to place figurines and pictures of a breastfeeding woman to help increase a nursing mother’s milk supply. In some developing cultures, colostrum is considered to be a sign of infection or poison and is not given to a newborn baby – mothers will actually express this milk and throw it away!Estimated Reading Time: 3 mins
Jan 05, 2015 · Breastfeeding has never been without cultural commentary. Breast milk is arguably one of the most provocative of bodily fluids—we do not feel as passionate about urine, sweat, snot, or tears—and yet breast milk is a biggie. Since the beginning of time, breast milk has been revered…and has been a substance of great contention.Author: Healthfoundationsbirthcenter
Oct 30, 2012 · Other beliefs are more of a struggle. One study of 120 cultures showed that 50 withheld the infant from the breast for 48 hours or more due to the belief that colostrum was “dirty”, “old”, or “not real milk”. In central Karnataka in India, 35% of infants were still not breastfeeding at 48 hours, yet at 1 month 94% were.Estimated Reading Time: 5 mins
Pak-Gorstein, Hag and Graham discuss several effects culture may have on breast feeding but point out several times that there are significant differences, even within the same culture. 1 For instance, foreign-born mothers, particularly from low-income countries, generally have higher breast feeding rates and breast feed longer than do U.S. born mothers from the same culture.Estimated Reading Time: 9 mins
The study determined maternal dietary diversity, breastfeeding and, infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices and identified reasons for such behavior in five rural communities in South Africa, in the context of cultural beliefs and social aspects.Cited by: 10
Oct 01, 2015 · In some African cultures certain herbs are rubbed on the breast to increase milk and in some regions mothers are given special diets for 40 days. Chile foods are usually restricted but one African tribe actually encourages the new mother to have …Estimated Reading Time: 13 mins
Nov 02, 2009 · Cultural beliefs and local traditions are important in determining health behavior in general. Studies of feeding practices in different countries have shown a large variety of beliefs and traditions related to breastfeeding [ 5 – 7, 11 – 16 ]. While some of these can encourage breastfeeding, others may discourage it.Cited by: 92
This balance is difficult but essential to master. The midwife recorded all such questions on a separate data collection sheet in colloquial Arabic using the same terms used by the caller in reference to the problem discussed. So was your daughter fed between those four hours at all? Yeah very much so. Her mother came to the UK to Last updated September Related Insights. Ramadan is a month in the Islamic calendar when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. Study participation was limited to healthy first-time mothers who delivered at term during the study period and had no maternal or infant complications. Many mothers feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in the same room as men and mahram men even if nothing is showing and baby is well covered up. Gender roles, social support and attitudes of friends and relatives towards breastfeeding have also been shown to affect a mother's intended duration of breastfeeding [ 3 ]. Studies of feeding practices in different countries have shown a large variety of beliefs and traditions related to breastfeeding [ 5 — 7 , 11 — 16 ]. It's not until you're actually doing something and you're doing it well that you realise you can do it. Once breastfeeding is going well, it becomes easier to cover up. Others were concerned about continuing to breastfeed when they had an upper respiratory tract infection or were taking medications, for fear of exposing the baby to potentially dangerous substances. Provided by the Springer Nature SharedIt content-sharing initiative. Some women talked about sections of the population where bottle feeding is still the norm and how difficult it is for women from those sections to break the cycle. McKenna, K. A good understanding of local beliefs, customs and traditions related to breastfeeding can help healthcare providers and breastfeeding advocates provide better support and more appropriate counselling to breastfeeding mothers. She talked about the Why don't you cook? Obstetrics and Gynecology. Our findings revealed that women might hold a number of beliefs that discourage them from breastfeeding successfully. Download PDF. Women asked about indications that would allow them to determine if their milk was good or bad, often stating that someone usually a family member , had told them that their milk must be bad because the baby was fussy, not lasting long enough between feeds, not sleeping well or not growing adequately. In our population, this concern was related to both the crying of the infant, as well as the resolution of breast engorgement, which was interpreted by the mother as a sign for concern. Mothers expressed concern about having adequate amounts of breast milk or the quality of their breast milk. She thinks some people may feel uncomfortable. Stay Connected. No I am from Colombia, and in my country I don't think there is, a doubt that what we have to do as women, is to nourish our babies, and I, I think I was very preoccupied not to have any milk because unfortunately for my sister-in-law she couldn't breastfeed her baby because, I don't know why but she didn't really seem to have much milk, and I was really, really concerned and I was like begging and praying, 'Please I want to have milk because I want to do that for my baby' and fair enough he's been very healthy, very alert and it fills me with happiness. Last Name. At first I didn't think, I don't think anything when I didn't have like pregnant but after that I pregnant and I try to like the breastfeeding, I didn't like to get it, collect it to my house, I think it's like the nature, it's easy way, it is not like the pay for or buy it, is a free, it's good, but I think it's have a like a struck in my opinion in my attention to breastfeeding, if I have a bottle in front of me, I think this is easy and everybody in my house, is very, this is easy, make my son grow like breastmilk right, I think it is a problem if I have, if I have it in my house. International Breastfeeding Journal volume 4 , Article number: 12 Cite this article. Reprints and Permissions. Tell us who you are! The Mother Mary was exempt from sex, pain in childbirth, and perhaps many bodily functions at least as the story goes —and yet she breastfed. And the women there not having very good food? Journal of Clinical Nursing. In doing so, you respect her cultural wish while still encouraging healthier future breastfeeding habits. Int Breastfeed J 4, 12 Breastfeeding would only really be done in front of husband, you know, it wouldn't be acceptable if, I mean you just wouldn't get visited as a post-natal woman by a close family friend who happened to be male, that just didn't happen. Why such popularity in wet nurses? This is because in a Quranic verse Mary was told to eat dates at the time of giving birth to Jesus. The AAP, the U. For infants born in the U. So it's just a different culture. Minneapolis Location. Yeah I can go to tears. A mother may be torn between her desire to breastfeed — in an environment when food after weaning may not be plentiful — and her desire to satisfy her husband. Authors' contributions HO participated in the original study design, the data analysis, and drafting of the manuscript.
Historical, family, cultural and ethnic background shaped their breastfeeding experience for many of the women. Several talked about the bottle feeding culture of previous generations in the United Kingdom and how they hoped that their daughters would go on to breastfeed because of the example that they had set. One woman talked about the divide between the breastfeeding and bottle feeding culture see 'Breastfeeding away from home'. Some women talked about sections of the population where bottle feeding is still the norm and how difficult it is for women from those sections to break the cycle. A few women talked about the culture surrounding weight gain, not just in babies but through all stages of life see 'Monitoring baby's growth'. Did you have a health visitor or anything like that? Yeah there'd be a health visitor and she was, she was nice and that was all fair enough she didn't, I don't think she, you know, there's a whole sort of culture of like the baby's weight and going to visit and, [pause] and I suppose in some ways if you can breastfeed and it's all happening and it's all alright and you're not that bothered about all that side of the thing, and there's no failure to thrive business going on, 'cause [daughter] was exactly on the middle to, of the centile, she was right on the line she was, at birth she was seven and she just carried on, on that line so they, you know, they couldn't have me for that, you know? Did you feel good about that? Of course I was feeling the complete bloom of having a baby and like how beautiful it is to have a baby and, watch them and be with them and [pause], you know I felt all that, but at the same time I think, you know, my emotions were going quite up and down. You said to me that, not many women in this area breastfeed, why do you think that is? What are the barriers? Well one of the reasons they'd say that, one of the reasons that they'd say is because in a culture where, where man is sort of like prioritised, you don't, you don't, you don't put money into good nutrition of the woman so she can give, give breastmilk, you go down and get formula that is exactly right, that means that your kid will develop at exactly the right rate they're supposed to, so it does what it says on the tin, and you don't necessarily know that your wife is going to do what is, you know, going to do the same. So it's just a different culture. And also the whole body beautiful culture will be on the western working class women it's like, you know, you are some mad, middle class sandal-wearing hippy if you breastfeed, sort of and but I'm, I don't know, I think that's a prejudice. I reckon probably, I think that, I think the tide is turning and probably women are turning on to the fact that they're, it's the easiest thing to do is breastfeed, it's totally natural. What do you think we can do to help push that tide along? I think that's a good question that is. I think you should basically subsidise good food and so, you know, women really become conscious of the fact that the nutrition that they're giving their baby is part of the nutrition they're giving themselves and, that they have to look, you know, that, that it's good to look after yourself so that your baby thrives But I think women know that, women really know that anyway, it's only because of social reasons that people like, don't like you doing it here or. So what sort of social reasons? Some women from non-British backgrounds talked about breastfeeding being the norm in their family and how they wished to copy their own mother. Many women received a lot of support from their mother or mother-in-law in the days immediately after birth see 'Going home with a breastfed baby' although for some it was not always of the right kind see Interview 12 below. Some women followed religious guidance on breastfeeding, especially those of the Islamic faith where breastfeeding is recommended for up to two years see 'Gathering information, making the decision and preparing for breastfeeding'. In many of these cultures where breastfeeding was the expectation, the women had not seen other women breastfeeding in public and, in a few cases, not even within the family. Many women would not breastfeed in front of male family members other than the baby's father see 'Going home with a breastfed baby'. One woman said that, contrary to her culture, she had lost her shyness or reserve, breastfeeding wasn't private anymore, she often didn't even realise that she was exposing some of her breast and it had become normal for people, mainly health professionals, to come and have a look and see how the baby was feeding. Some women had given birth and breastfed both overseas and in the UK and compared their different experiences. A young woman from Uganda, who came from a breastfeeding family background and had a caesarean section in the UK, said that she felt cheated out of the skin-to-skin contact that she would have experienced in her home country. A French woman was dismayed by all the advertising of infant formula in women's magazines in both France and the UK see 'Thinking about the breastfeeding environment'. One woman talked about her experience of having a premature baby in Germany while her husband was serving in the armed forces. She thinks that breastfeeding her children changed attitudes within her extended family and she View full profile. What do you think made you think that you, maybe you couldn't or you'd have problems, where did you get that idea from? I think that when you are looking, when you do speak to people, anybody that's had children, if they haven't breastfed, which a lot of people that I spoke to hadn't, they've always got a reason for it and it's usually something like, 'I couldn't because I didn't have enough milk', 'it hurt', 'the baby wouldn't ever settle', 'the baby didn't like it' you just, you hear more, you know, 'I had cracked nipples', 'I was engorged' and I think I'd, in my head had this picture of this horrible painful experience which it wasn't something that you would look forward to when you're having your baby. I wanted, you know, I wanted breastfeeding to be lovely and beautiful and, I'm an idealist I know I am and, I think that the thought of it being painful or, the baby not sleeping or, you know, nobody else being able to sort of participate in the care of the baby, all of these things, you know, they're all reasons not to, if you like, so when you think about things like that you do start to think, 'Oh am I going to be able to actually do this? It's not until you're actually doing something and you're doing it well that you realise you can do it. So it's a confidence game? Absolutely yeah, you have to, you have to get confident before you're happy about anything so, once you're doing it and you realise you can do it that's, that's when you feel happy about something. I know one thing we haven't covered is, well we've kind of touched on it, is the father's role in all of this. You've said how supportive he was, does he come from a breastfeeding background? Well, apparently he was breastfed but his brother wasn't, my mother-in-law is very helpful, very, very supportive but, you know, we have had, in terms of the support that she's given both of us, there have been times when she's said, 'Oh don't you think that, the baby should be on a bottle now? And the two of us were there with all of the children and one of the neighbours came in and, I started feeding the baby as you do and, it turned out that the neighbour's daughter was pregnant and my mother-in-law and her ended up having a conversation about breastfeeding and my mother-in-law was saying how, even breastfeeding for one month gives them such a wonderful start and, I remember [husband] and me coming away and saying, 'Did you hear what she said? Wasn't that amazing? And he, I mean he is really, really supportive, he doesn't, he never wants me to do anything that's not right for me, he would never force me into doing anything, he would never make me feel guilty about anything, I mean he is so, you know, so amazingly supportive, he wants us to do, you know, wants us to do what's right for us and for our family. But he, you know I think he's very happy and, he pointed out to us the other day, which I thought was really nice, he said that, as a result of this, my daughter who is seven will probably breastfeed, because this is her culture, this is what she's, she's now grown up with and that made me feel so proud [laughs] that, you know, one person, if seeing me breastfeed makes one person breastfeed then that makes me happy. She thinks that people are conditioned to behave in certain ways and that the barriers to As a breastfeeding support worker she visited Muslim families to explain the importance of So are most mothers that you are seeing breastfeeding? Majority yeah, majority first they do start breastfeeding and then afterwards they start, majority have a lot of pressure from the extended family, or some have pressures from their husbands. Can you talk about that a bit more? Of course, I've had so many cases when they're breastfeeding absolutely wonderful, no problem whatsoever, baby's fine, mum's fine when they're in the hospital and they go home and then afterwards when the baby gets a bit bigger then the mother-in-law wants to breast, mother-in-law sorry, wants to feed. So with breastfeeding that can't happen so mother-in-law will go out and buy the milk, and the sterilising and everything, so she'll make the milk and when the baby's hungry she'll start feeding the baby. And then the mum can't, she can't say anything then she has to go to the kitchen, then do the cooking and when the baby will cry the mother-in-law will say, 'No it's okay you do what you have to do I'll feed her, or I'll feed him' and even with the husband the majority of the daughter-in-laws have them, if they are living with the extended family they've got older mother-in-laws or father-in-laws so even the husband will feel sorry for the mother, say, 'Why should my Mum cook?
Another food that Muslim mothers may be encouraged to eat during labor and post-partum are dates. Helping Muslim mothers adopt good breastfeeding practices requires an understanding of the differences between the religious basis of breastfeeding and the cultural practices followed by some Muslims. However, in Arab countries it is still widely practiced and Arab mothers may first look for a wet nurse within their extended families. Very warm. View full profile. Yes four of them to have babies and to have cracked nipples so. A common belief was that maternal abdominal pain could be transmitted to the infant through the breast milk and result in colic. Given that abdominal cramping postpartum is essentially universal, due to uterine involution, this belief can be a very important barrier to breastfeeding. Women's Health. Last reviewed November Several talked about the bottle feeding culture of previous generations in the United Kingdom and how they hoped that their daughters would go on to breastfeed because of the example that they had set. When Ramadan falls in the summer, the fasts are very long and many mothers worry about how they will manage to fast and continue breastfeeding. Hospitals were selected based on their volume of deliveries. A French woman was dismayed by all the advertising of infant formula in women's magazines in both France and the UK see 'Thinking about the breastfeeding environment'. As one who is digging away at my Masters in Cultural Anthropology. Interested in finding out more about working to improve breastfeeding rates? But yeah you sort of, they, they worked on a four hourly feeding pattern so we made sure that we were always there at the four hour point to feed, either breastfeeding or with bottles and just stayed all day virtually. These poor mothers are still often expected to be separated from their healthy babies after birth. The set up over there is second to none, you could quite happily eat your dinner off the floor it's spotless and clean. Ritchie J, Spencer L: Qualitative data analysis for applied policy research. Buyukgebiz B, Cevik N, Oran O: Factors related to the duration of breastfeeding in Ankara, with special reference to sociocultural aspects. As required, configure the other options such as the pages to print. Generally, the Hispanic population has a high rate of breast feeding initiation. This notion of expressing so that your husband could give the baby a bottle, where did that come from? Local and international organizations working to encourage breastfeeding, such as La Leche League, should also consider these beliefs when planning their programs. Latino and Hispanic families are more likely than others to use formula in the first two days of life; and African American families have the lowest rates of breastfeeding initiation and continued breastfeeding among all ethnic and racial groups. Her mother-in-law was supportive even though she had not breastfed herself. However, cultural norms are difficult to identify. Can you talk about that a bit more? International Breastfeeding Journal volume 4 , Article number: 12 Cite this article. These poor mothers feel obliged to feed according to the clock and feel like failures if their babies feed more frequently. Yeah, I don't think I've ever heard anyone like, thinking, 'I might or might not do it' it's just there. Methods: The study used mixed methodology technique. So you said when you left the maternity hospital that was it, you were on your own? Majority yeah, majority first they do start breastfeeding and then afterwards they start, majority have a lot of pressure from the extended family, or some have pressures from their husbands. Try and picture that scene taking place in your local mall! Takeaways How you view breastfeeding is definitely impacted by your culture. While not a common or accepted practice in the West today, wet nurses were once so popular that they had to advertise their services and compete for business. The perception of the evil eye presents a barrier to women breastfeeding, because a mother might deny her child the benefits of her breast milk if she fears she has been subjected to the evil eye. This variability in breastfeeding practices is significantly influenced by cultural beliefs, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, education, urbanization, modernization, and local feeding practices [ 5 — 7 ]. The preview might take a minute to display, depending on the document size. In addition, breastfeeding while pregnant may seem strange and unacceptable in some cultures. Thanks, Emma. This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. Bangladeshi mothers have their drinking water restricted in the first few days because it is believed that it will make them swell up, but in neighboring cultures the mothers are given plenty of water. Sometimes honey or cane sugar is used instead. In Islam fathers play an important role in breastfeeding. The hotline was a mobile telephone that was answered by a midwife who was trained to respond to the questions and concerns of mothers regarding self-care, infant care, and parenting issues. Not a member? Weaning methods are heavily influenced by cultural practices in Muslim families, as there is no specific mention of how to wean in the Quran. Search all BMC articles Search. Other causes of "bad milk" cited in the literature such as sexual intercourse, pregnancy, and working in the sun were not mentioned by our callers [ 13 , 15 ]. And the two of us were there with all of the children and one of the neighbours came in and, I started feeding the baby as you do and, it turned out that the neighbour's daughter was pregnant and my mother-in-law and her ended up having a conversation about breastfeeding and my mother-in-law was saying how, even breastfeeding for one month gives them such a wonderful start and, I remember [husband] and me coming away and saying, 'Did you hear what she said? Breastfeeding has never been without cultural commentary.
Photo by mrcharley via Flickr Creative Commons. In it, she talks about her experiences as a Canadian mother moving to Mongolia. Then, as he pops off in surprise, the giver of the kiss gets a face full of milk and everybody laughs. Try and picture that scene taking place in your local mall! We enjoy reading about the fact that Japanese kindergarten admission forms might ask matter-of-factly whether a child has weaned from the breast. Or, that in Korea, an IBCLC declaring a baby to be beautiful would be going against the cultural practice of not commenting that a baby is healthy, fat or beautiful for fear of making the mischievous Gods jealous. Traditionally, if a date cannot be found, anything sweet will do. Other beliefs are more of a struggle. A mother who may be reluctant to give colostrum feeds in a western hospital may be passionately committed to exclusive breastfeeding later on. Some of us can be a little smug when it comes to looking at cultural practices from around the world. Several cultures — traditional groups in Papua New Guinea and the Gogo tribe of Tanzania among them — emphasize the need for the woman to be celibate during breastfeeding. A mother may be torn between her desire to breastfeed — in an environment when food after weaning may not be plentiful — and her desire to satisfy her husband. A husband who is often not expected to also remain celibate. Those descriptions may be hard to hear but I have no doubt there are women pitying the cultural constraints put upon many woman living in Western industrialized cultures. These poor mothers are still often expected to be separated from their healthy babies after birth. These poor mothers feel obliged to feed according to the clock and feel like failures if their babies feed more frequently. She is keen to encourage open dialogue in an area which even breastfeeding supporters sometimes shy away from. Thank you for this insightful article that helped me to recognize the diversity of experiences of breastfeeding moms around the world. As the world becomes a smaller place as far as our communications and interactions are concerned,it is great to be aware of such support challenges. I seek to start a culturally diverse breastfeeding support community. Great article. Thanks, Emma. As a Zimbabwean emigree, living in the USA, I am always glad to learn about different cultures, and to have my colleagues open their hearts and minds to them too. Thank for this article. Thanks Anissa. As one who is digging away at my Masters in Cultural Anthropology. I strive for cultural understanding, send me some more I am very interested. Very interesting article. This is interesting and an eye-opener article, Emma. If only, those old traditions can also adapt a little bit more to the new practices on breastfeeding as this is also being supported by the health and science experts. Thanks for this. Pickett, E. Name required. Email will not be published required. Share Pin Viola 26 November at Fay Bosman 28 November at Anissa 15 September at Thanks Anissa Reply. Branden Brush 13 January at Kady 19 March at Alex 1 July at Leave a Reply Click here to cancel reply. Comment Name required Email will not be published required Website.