The Role Of Social Support In Breastfeeding Experiences Among Rural Women In Southern Appalachia

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Amanda Clark (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Lanae Ball

Abstract: Objectives: The objectives of this study are: 1) to describe breastfeeding experiences and level of social support received among WIC participants in southern Appalachia, 2) to examine perceived types and effectiveness of social support received including emotional, instrumental, informational, and appraisal.Design, Setting, and Participants: Data was collected using a semi structured qualitative interview (n = 7). Breastfeeding and postpartum WIC participants were recruited to participate via the placement of flyers in three WIC clinics in western North Carolina. ASU IRB approved the study.Outcome Measures and Analysis: A semi-structured interview was conducted to assess breastfeeding experiences, barriers, and level of support received. Interviews were transcribed verbatim. Grounded theory approach (Glaser, 1967) was applied and themes were organized as they emerged. Interviews were coded using Nvivo software (QSR International, 2013).Results: Each interview lasted approximately one hour. The mean age was 29 and the average monthly income was $1,723. Participants reported a high level of support from partners (e.g. husbands), professionals (e.g. lactation consultants and WIC), and the maternal grandmother of the infant. Commonly reported themes included receipt of professional support (11 mentions), difficulty breastfeeding (13 mentions), and desire to breastfeed for health benefits and bonding (27 mentions).Conclusions and Implications: The interview results indicated that even with strong social support, obstacles such as sexist social norms still exist for breastfeeding mothers. Professionals specializing in breastfeeding, such as WIC staff and lactation consultants, tended to be more helpful than other health professionals Partners were a strong source of support for married mothers, and tended to have input on breastfeeding duration. Emotional, appraisal, and informational support were perceived as effective support for breastfeeding initiation and duration.

Additional Information

Clark, A. (2016). The Role Of Social Support In Breastfeeding Experiences Among Rural Women In Southern Appalachia. Unpublished Master's Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2016
Social support, WIC, breastfeeding

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