Date of Conferral
Antigua and Barbuda, in the eastern Caribbean, is one of several countries with exclusive low breastfeeding rates and premature weaning. Researchers have demonstrated that babies exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life are better protected from childhood diseases and experience a better quality of life into adulthood, while early weaning is associated with morbidity and mortality. However, at 6 weeks postpartum, only 30% of Antiguan and Barbudan mothers are exclusively breastfeeding. Researchers have explained why mothers in general cease exclusive breastfeeding prematurely: insufficiency of breast milk, returning to paid employment, lack of social support; but an explanation specific to Antigua and Barbuda has not been identified. This qualitative phenomenological study, therefore, initiates research concerning breastfeeding attitudes and practices specific to this country. It explores the experiences and perceptions of 13 Antiguan and Barbudan 1st-time mothers on exclusive breastfeeding and weaning. The theory of planned behavior provided the theoretical framework. Data collected from semistructured interviews were coded using key word as themes. Manual analysis of the research data was also conducted. The findings indicated inadequate lactation education and counselling for mothers, poor levels of lactation education among nurses, and minimal statutory maternity leave as the reasons for premature weaning among the research participants. The findings of this research can contribute to social change in Antigua and Barbuda by providing evidence-based information to strengthen breastfeeding policies and interventions and become part of regional scholarship on this issue.