Year

1990

Degree Name

Master of Science (Hons.)

Department

Department of Public Health and Nutrition

Abstract

The study investigated infant feeding practices among mothers of a predominantiy Macedonian-speaking community in Wollongong. An initial survey of Early Childhood Health Centre records revealed that initial breastfeeding rates were high but declined rapidly during the first 3 months postpartum. The study aimed to investigate reasons for the decline to 3 months and to determine whether there were differences in infant feeding patterns between the Macedonian-speaking and the non- Macedonian speaking mothers. Fifty five mothers were interviewed during their first 3 months postpartum about their infant feeding practices, attitudes and experiences. Macedonian-speaking Ethnic Health Workers and Interpreters, and Early Childhood Health Sisters were also interviewed. The rapid decline in breastfeeding during the initial 3 months postpartum mirrored changes in mothers' attitudes to breastfeeding and bottiefeeding. Initial positive attitudes about breastfeeding reversed during the initial 3 months postpartum. The Health Belief Model is used as a framework to develop a model of the process of decision-making about infant feeding that has implications for promoting breastfeeding. The perception of the health benefits of breastfeeding over bottiefeeding was not strong enough to outweigh the directly experienced problems. Stepwise Regression analyses distinguished 4 variables (mother's educational level, attitudes to convenience and duration of breastfeeding, and the introduction of complementary bottiefeeding) that identified those mothers most at risk of weaning their infants early, and could be used by Early Childhood Centre personnel to direct resources where they are most needed to promote breastfeeding.

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