Research Article
Volume 2 Issue 6 - 2020
Making Decisions Regarding Infant Feeding Practices during the First 6 Months of the Child: A Qualitative Grounded Theory Study on Portuguese Mothers
Joana Catarina de Larangeira Lopes1* and Natalia Vincens2
1MPH, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
2Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Gothemburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
*Corresponding Author: Joana Catarina de Larangeira Lopes, MPH, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
Received: March 12, 2020; Published: May 06, 2020


Exclusive Breastfeeding is recommended by World Health Organization until 6 months old. It is considered one of the most cost-effective measures to improve Child and Adult Health, making breastfeeding promotion a public health priority. Spite the efforts, worldwide only about 40% of the babies are exclusively breastfed at 6 months old. To tackle these numbers, it is important to acknowledge that breastfeeding is a voluntary behaviour.

The aim of this study is to create a better understanding of the process by which Portuguese mothers make decisions regarding infant feeding practices during the first 6 months of the child.

Nine in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with Portuguese mothers that tried to breastfeed. Some of them continued exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months, some introduced formula or other practices before.

Corbin and Strauss Grounded Theory was used to collect and analyze the data. A conceptual model on different pathways that mothers can cross was created. The core category chosen was “Finding a balance between the best for the child and the best for the mother”, describing the persistent struggle that mothers go through trying to counterpoise “giving their baby the best start in life” and “maintain their own wellbeing”. This pathway was described in 5 categories: Creating Expectations, Realizing it takes two (or more), Questioning breastfeeding as a natural instinct, Solving incompatibilities between guidelines and real life; and Recognizing that motherhood makes you learn that "when you spit up into the air it falls on your face".

These findings suggest that, despite being a voluntary behaviour, breastfeeding or not, is a decision taking in a context. When mothers make decisions regarding infant feeding practices, they are influenced by peers, norms, values, public policies, and their concept of breastfeeding success. It is essential to consider these, and emphasize the central role of the mother, if we want to create a context that facilitates the choice of breastfeeding.

Keywords: Infant Feeding Practices; Exclusive Breastfeeding (EBF); World Health Organization


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Citation: Joana Catarina de Larangeira Lopes and Natalia Vincens. “Making Decisions Regarding Infant Feeding Practices during the First 6 Months of the Child: A Qualitative Grounded Theory Study on Portuguese Mothers”. EC Nursing and Healthcare 2.6 (2020): 03-12.

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