242456 Exploring the Breastfeeding Experiences of Black WIC Mothers

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Julie Ann Reeder, PhD, MPH, CHES , WIC Program, Oregon Health Authority, Portland, OR
Background: Breastfeeding has been demonstrated to convey numerous health benefits to both infants and mothers. Although the Healthy People 2010 goal of 75% of mothers initiating breastfeeding has almost been met, disparities exist between racial/ethnic groups, with African American mothers having significantly lower rates. Oregon stands out from other states with over 90% of mothers initiating, with this trend holding true for the African American population with 83% initiation. The purpose of this study was to use a phenomenological approach to explore the experiences of African American WIC mothers who successfully initiated breastfeeding.

Methods: A list of potential participants was extracted from the Oregon WIC database and 37 women were invited to participate. Ten women agreed to take part in a 45 minute semi-structured interview about their experiences with breastfeeding.

Results: Three primary themes emerged as most influencing breastfeeding success among study participants; maternal self-efficacy, importance of the mother-child bond, and belief in the benefits of breastfeeding. Other aspects of the experience including prenatal intention, hospital experiences and provider/WIC interactions were explored. Differences arose between African immigrant participants and native born.

Implications: Understanding the link between a woman's perception of her role as a mother and her internal motivation to successfully breastfeed may be a critical component in designing interventions for women at high risk for not breastfeeding. In addition, since each woman's motivation for breastfeeding was quite individual, tailored education rather than a one-size fits all approach has a greater potential for achieving success.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1) Identify the reasons why breastfeeding rates among Oregon's Black WIC participants greatly exceed national rates. 2) Describe the key motivators of Black WIC participants who successfully initiated and continued breastfeeding. 3) Asses whether factors related to high breastfeeding rates among Oregon's Black population can be translated to states with traditionally lower rates.

Keywords: Breast Feeding, African American

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I oversee research projects on breastfeeding in the WIC setting.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.