In this Section
247232 Do cultural features of language and community among deaf mothers enhance their success in breastfeeding?
Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 2:45 PM
Little is known about how deaf mothers who use American Sign Language negotiate the challenges of breastfeeding. Given the experiences of hearing mothers, however, we anticipated that deaf mothers would find it even more difficult to initiate and sustain breastfeeding: deaf women are cut off from ambient health information that hearing people take for granted; there are often communication barriers between deaf women and their providers; and written health information can be difficult to decipher. Our team of deaf and hearing researchers conducted four focus groups in Rochester, NY to better understand how deaf mothers learn about infant care generally and breastfeeding in particular. 15 mothers participated. All had initiated breastfeeding in the hospital and continued at home. 7 of 15 breastfed for 6 months or more. 3 were still breastfeeding children less than 6 months old. 5 mothers had stopped breastfeeding before 6 months (age range at weaning: 1 week-3 months). The deaf mothers in our study seemed to have had better success in overcoming challenges than hearing mothers. We presented preliminary findings back to a community of deaf mothers in Rochester to interpret the findings. Deaf mothers report having more support over multiple levels of the socioecological spectrum due to strengths of the deaf community in Rochester; were actively engaged in information exchange through social media sites; and conceptualized the process of breastfeeding as a ‘struggle'. This conceptualization is different than how hearing mothers describe the process and may contribute to success for deaf mothers.
Learning Areas:Diversity and culture
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences
Keywords: Breast Feeding, Culture
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a deaf researcher with training and experience in qualitative research
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.