Enhancing Breastfeeding Through Healthcare Support: Results from a Focus Group Study of African American Mothers.Matern Child Health J. 2016 11; 20(Suppl 1):92-102.MC
Objectives To explore African American women's breastfeeding thoughts, attitudes, and experiences with healthcare professionals and subsequent influences on their breastfeeding interest and behavior. Insight was also sought about the most effective practices to provide breastfeeding support to African American women. Methods Thirty-eight pregnant or lactating African American women and racially diverse health professionals were recruited and participated in one of six membership specific focus groups in the metro Detroit area. An experienced focus group facilitator who was African American woman served as the primary group facilitator, using a semi-structured guide to discussions. Focus groups explored perceptions of personal and professional roles and behaviors that support African American women's breastfeeding behavior. Discussions were digitally recorded and audiotapes were transcribed. Thematic content analysis was conducted in combination with a review of field notes. Results Participants generally agreed that breastfeeding is the healthier feeding method but perceived that healthcare providers were not always fully supportive and sometimes discouraged breastfeeding. Non-breastfeeding mothers often expressed distrust of the information and recommendations given by healthcare providers and relied more on peers and relatives. Health professionals lacked information and skills to successfully engage African American women around breastfeeding. Conclusions for Practice Breastfeeding initiation and duration among African American mothers may increase when postpartum breastfeeding interventions address social and cultural challenges and when hospital breastfeeding support with the right professional lactation support, is void of unconscious bias and bridges hospital, community, peers, and family support. Professional lactation training for healthcare professionals who are in contact with expectant and new mothers and an increase in the number of IBCLC of color could help.