Breastfeeding Experiences of Urban Adolescent Mothers

Published:September 16, 2008DOI:
      This qualitative descriptive study examined the breastfeeding experiences of urban adolescent mothers using a combination of focus groups and semi-structured interviews. Analysis of verbatim interview text, field, and debriefing notes was undertaken to discover categories, themes and an emerging conceptual framework. Twenty-three teens, between the ages of 14 and 18, enrolled from two postpartum clinics described the process of teens' breastfeeding decision-making, initiation, continuation, and termination of breastfeeding. Roughly half of the teens were currently breastfeeding and the other half had weaned their infant within the last six months. Adolescent mothers chose breastfeeding mainly for infant health reasons, closeness and bonding. Positive and negative events; barriers and facilitators to continued breastfeeding; and types of support received during breastfeeding illuminated the experience starting in the hospital and extending over time. Among those who weaned, a combination of primary and secondary obstacles or problems, such as perceptions of insufficient milk supply, nipple/breast pain, time demands of school or work, problems with pumping, and feeling overwhelmed and frustrated led to weaning. Many who weaned did not seek out available help and ultimately many reported regret about weaning earlier than intended. Those who continued breastfeeding beyond six weeks reported significant emotional, informational and instrumental support from family, friends, school, and their babies. Implications for nursing practice and research are discussed.

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