‘IT WAS NEVER AN OPTION NOT TO BREASTFEED’: EXPLORING BREASTFEEDING EXPERIENCES AND INTENTIONS OF MULTIGRAVIDAE IN SOUTHERN NIGERIA.
Exclusive breastfeeding rates are generally modest despite its benefits and pertinence in countries with high childhood morbidity and mortality. In order to understand the complexities of successfully promoting breastfeeding, qualitative research using postmodern research methodologies such as ethnography, grounded theory and interpretative phenomenological analysis, as well as feminist analysis have been employed to explore the experience of breastfeeding by the active participants of breastfeeding-mothers. However, there is a dearth of such studies in developing countries like Nigeria. This study explores accounts of breastfeeding provided by nine pregnant Nigerian women (28-33 years) who had previously breastfed. Participants wereinterviewed, and data were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Analyses indicated three emergent themes which highlighted women’s experiences of breastfeeding as complex and shaped by proximal and distal influences. Accounts of pain, psychological distress and worries over ‘breast addiction’ were juxtaposed with pride in perceptions of good mothering, connectedness and upholding cultural heritage. Women’s feeding choices were scrutinised and/or stigmatised by family and community members. In the context of feminist ‘‘lens’’, major implication is the potential penalisation for not breastfeeding and hence, a contravention of the right of choice of infant feeding.There is therefore, the need for the incorporation of the right to choose infant feeding methods in breastfeeding campaigns; support for breastfeeding, particularly the inclusion of support for discontinuation; and similar research to explore specific aspects and perspectives on breastfeeding such as those of spouses, to further provide insights that may be useful for the improvement, adaptation and/or development of interventions.
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