This study explored the factors which affect the feeding and weaning practices of Emirati mothers as well as the experiences and perceptions which influence their breastfeeding decisions. It used both quantitative and qualitative methods to examine Emirati mothers’ understanding of infant feeding and to identify the factors which appeared to have a relevant effect and locate them in their cultural context. n the survey, a convenientce sample of 593 mothers with infants aged up to 2 years was interviewed face to face in the maternal and child healthcare centers in Al Ain, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The interview was based on a pretested structured questionnaire. The results of multiple logistic analysis showed that the time of initiation of the first breastfeed was significantly associated with the infant’s birth weight (OR=2.007; P<0.023), parity (OR=2.139; P<0.001) and rooming in (OR=21.70; P<0.001). As for the feeding patterns, the results of the multiple logistic analysis revealed that rooming in (OR=4.485; P<0.001), feeding on demand (OR=2.290; P<0.005) and feeding more frequently at night (P<0.001) emerged as significant factors associated with exclusive or almost exclusive breastfeeding practices. The duration of breastfeeding rate was significantly influenced by many variables. Concerning the duration of lactational amenorrhea, the, the multiple logistic analysis showed that mother's age, breastfeeding duration and the early introduction of formula milk and solid food emerged as significant variables. Among the 593 infants in the study, 24.1% were predominantly breastfed,25% of the infants were exclusively breastfed, and 49.4% were almost exclusively breastfed since birth. Fifteen Emirati mothers from each city were interviewed about their breastfeeding practices, beliefs and perceptions. The following themes emerged: the influence of others, the sources of information, infants’ behavior, knowledge of and attitudes towards current WHO recommendations and mothers’ perception of the benefits of breastfeeding. Health promotions and healthcare facilities failed to deliver the message of the importance of exclusive breastfeeding. Grandmothers and mothers-in-law appeared to influence the mother's breastfeeding practices. In conclusion, there is a need for a national community-based breastfeeding intervention programme for the promoting exclusive breastfeeding practices as part of a primary public health strategy.
|Date of Award||16 Mar 2012|
|Supervisor||Roger Sapsford (Supervisor), Abdulrahman Musaiger (Supervisor) & Fatima Hachem (Supervisor)|