Perspectives on Infant Feeding across Cultures and Communities
Updated: May 24
Why is Breastfeeding Important?
When it comes to breastfeeding, perspectives on how mothers feed their infants vary across cultures and communities. Unfortunately, one of the problems I have observed in my experience in studying nutrition is the persistent resistance of mothers of denying proper nutrition to their children. Do mothers simply fear of breastfeeding?
Reasons these mothers may fear breastfeeding could be due to education maybe they don't know they should be doing it. Or possibly they could refuse to breastfeed because of their religion they aren't supposed to show their body in public or maybe it is forbidden. Some mothers find it painful or could it just be a personal preference? Nonetheless, breastfeeding is imperative to support fetal growth and development throughout the beginning stages of life.
Infants need more proteins and fat than adolescents and adults. It is because of their vast neural development and rapid growth in earlier stages of life that they need these large amounts. Breastfeeding can provide these nutrients to the infant in the perfect quantities designed for their bodies. Therefore, it is wise to breastfeed as much as possible. Although women fear to breastfeed, and they have their differences when it comes to reasoning, socioeconomic trends can also hinder a woman's view on breastfeeding.
In discussing socioeconomic status, our country suffers from a large gap between income margins, and this takes a toll on the specific ethnicities of our people. Also, income and job type have an impact on how these ethnicities can raise their children. Some ethnicities may have the income to feed their children well with many options to choose from. However, financial obligation leaves many with little to no choices on how to effectively seek appropriate food measures for their families. Unfortunately, the higher the income, the more likely to breastfeed, when income shouldn't make a difference in how much milk a mother's breast produces. Along with the financial burden to find effective ways to feed our children, impoverished socioeconomic status impacts our education opportunities, which in turn affects our education levels.
Education and Views
Education in different cultures will enable different views. Meaning; some may bottle-feed due to the lack of training on how to breastfeed, and some may bottle-feed because they don't know they should breastfeed. Lack of knowledge also impacts their choice of residence in deciding which geographical areas these particular families chose to live. This choice could hinder their ability to getting to food markets, thus, limiting their food sources. As well, single fathers may be uneducated in how to seek donor mothers who may replace the missing mother's breast milk with their own. Thus, education about breastfeeding and how to retrieve the proper food sources can greatly influence how we feel and view this method of feeding.
Race and Ethnicity is a Factor
Socioeconomic status has a significant effect on the viewpoints in specific ethnicities and how they choose to feed their infants. Women of low socioeconomic status are more likely to stop breastfeeding earlier than those of a higher socioeconomic status. As well, statistics say minority children are more likely to be bottle-fed and neglected the feeding of breastmilk, while the non-Hispanic White and Asian children experience just the opposite. People who experience low socioeconomic status, also experience poor social treatment and are often stereotyped. Often it is the case that they decided to live differently to adapt to their surroundings of prejudice to enable themselves the ability to survive. Could these be reasons certain mothers refuse to breastfeed?
Other Reasons that Mothers Refuse to Breastfeed
Other reasons mothers may neglect to breastfeed are because of other dire or selfish circumstances. For example, some mothers are single mothers, and they may bottle feed in efforts to multitask around the home due to work overload to maintain residential bills. Another extremity is being a teen parent. Reports have shown that teens are less likely to breastfeed. Also, parents seem to be quick to introduce their infants to solids sooner than necessary to enable comfort for themselves to complete what they consider essential tasks.
Where do we Find Answers?
Respectfully, there are many programs providing information along with courses on how to parent, wet nurse, and how to implement proper infant feeding techniques. A parent should take appropriate measures to ensure that they have access to the correct education, and children in each community are well established while still promoting health benefits. Although transportation can be a socioeconomic factor in the ability to participate in these programs, community organizations try to provide affordable resolutions to help initiate motivation to attend these programs.
Nutritionists Need to do Their Part
Lastly, nutritionists should be coaching clients to breastfeed. Regardless of socioeconomic status, fear, or reason, nutritionists should try to get to know their clients thoroughly and understand their reasons behind breastfeeding choice. Also, knowing what geographical area they chose to live in enables nutritionists to aid them in shopping for healthier resources effectively. It also helps in providing information for specific programs that can help mothers become more educated in nutritional practices.
Brown, J. E. (2016). Nutrition through the life cycle (6th Ed). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Yunez-Behm, V. (2019). NUTR641, Module 11 [Video lecture]. Retrieved from Lecture Notes Online Web site https://www.muih.edu