Cultural values that affect breast-feeding

Cultural values that affect breast-feeding

B. Demirtas, L. Taskin,

B. Ergöcmen

Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey

This research is a qualitative

study which was done to determine the cultural values that affect the

breast-feeding behaviors of the mothers. 293 mothers constituted the population

of the research. 24 mothers who had 4 to 24 month-old babies were sampled from

this population. The research data were collected by in-depth interviews by

using an interview guide. The data were assessed through content analysis. The

findings obtained were grouped into eight main themes: the baby’s first feeding

after birth, present breast-feeding status, the meaning of the breast-feeding to

the mother, breast-feeding problems, starting supplemental food, weaning

practices, the mother’s own thoughts on the benefits of the breast-feeding, her

information sources pertaining to breast-feeding. In the study, it was found out

that the mothers who became aware of the benefit and importance of the colostrum

willingly breast-fed their babies in the early postpartum period and that the

practice of feeding from one breast was widespread because they believed that it

was generally enough for the baby to be full. In this behavior, they adopted

experienced mothers as role models. The mothers who weaned during pregnancy

thought that the milk produced in this period got sour, could poison the baby

and was forbidden by religion. It was determined that the older generation

recommended that baby girls should not be breast-fed for a long time. Some

mothers thought that breast-feeding was a duty. It was determined that a

religious belief underlied these thoughts. They also stated that they got

embarrassed when they had to breast-feed in public. Mothers hesitated to use

cream to treat nipple trauma because they thought that cream could be harmful to

the baby. It was determined that mothers of all education levels and of all ages

preferred a bit plump babies. The older generation encouraged mothers to start

supplemental food early. Mothers thought that babies would be unwilling and

selective to eat supplemental food if they did not start supplemental food early.

Babies were given water before six months because they were thought to need

water. The older generation and neighbors encouraged mothers to wean before the

baby was one year old. In accordance with these research results,

recommendations for organizing educational programs related to breast-feeding by

taking the target group’s cultural values into account, for health workers to

emphasize the benefit and importance of the colostrum in particular, for giving

more coverage to breast-feeding and baby feeding programs in media, for the

older generation to be targeted in educational programs as well, for increasing

the influence and importance of the home visits in the primary health services,

for also covering the cultural aspect of the breast-feeding in nursing education

were made.

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