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Health Services


Vasileios Margaritis


Breastfeeding is associated with numerous health and social benefits. Although support for breastfeeding is promoted globally, disparities in breastfeeding rates and support continue. African American mothers have lower breastfeeding rates than do Hispanic and Caucasian mothers. Several researchers have focused on the benefits of breastfeeding support, but no available research has explained any specific ethnic group perceptions of breastfeeding. This study explored 10 first-time African American mothers' perceptions of the breastfeeding support they received from physicians, nurses, midwives, and lactation consultants. The purposeful criterion sampling strategy was used to recruit participants, and data were collected through semistructured telephone interviews. The phenomenological research strategy, the social constructivist philosophical framework, and the breastfeeding self-efficacy theory guided the research process and helped in understanding the lived experiences of the participants. Data were analyzed thematically, revealing motivating factors for breastfeeding, experiences in getting breastfeeding support, types of breastfeeding support groups, and overall breastfeeding experiences. All participants felt it was important to breastfeed for their children's health. Their main concern was a lack of adequate professional support after they gave birth. The findings from this study can contribute to positive social change by increasing awareness related to first-time African American mothers' breastfeeding experiences and perceptions. Such awareness can assist in creating culturally sensitive programs to assist more first-time African American mothers increase their self-efficacy and promote successful breastfeeding.