Qualitative Investigation of Infant (birth-6 months’ age) feeding practices among
First Time Mothers in rural Nigeria
Mary Mathew1* and Dan Apagu Gadzama2
1Department of Community Medicine, Federal University of Lafia, Lafia, Nasarawa State, Nigeria
2Department of Planning, Research and Statistics, Federal Capital Territory Primary Health Care Board, Garki, Abuja, Nigeria
*Corresponding Author: Mary Mathew, Department of Community Medicine,
Federal University of Lafia, Lafia, Nasarawa State, Nigeria.
June 26, 2023; Published: July 10, 2023
Early nutrition is crucially important for children to survive, grow and develop into healthy adults and improving nutrition in the first six months of life is widely been recognized as an international priority. This study was the first of its type in having a qualitative investigation into types and understanding of feeding practices among 24 first time mothers, half of which were practicing exclusive breastfeeding (EBF). They were randomly selected and voluntarily interviewed in primary health centers in the north and south of Nigeria using in-depth interviews and focus group discussions. The interviews and discussions were digitally voice recorded, transcribed and thematically analyzed using a constructionist approach. The study revealed a wide range of infant feeding practices that are practiced together with breast milk that include water, ‘peak’ liquid milk, ‘pap’, ‘kunu giya’, custard, native medicine in the first six months of age. ‘Kunu giya’, an alcoholic drink was practiced by the Goemai tribe.
My epistemological position as a ‘social constructionist’ researcher was the theoretical framework applied as it goes further than the interpretative approach by not only asking questions about people’s interpretations of an issue but taking the issue with the very concept of a pre-existing reality in understanding human behavior. Settings were observed, described and interpreted, maintaining “empathic neutrality" to prevent reflexivity.
The study concluded that successful Federal Government of Nigeria strategies to improve breastfeeding need to involve health care services, communities and families. At the same time, types of infant feeding apart from exclusive breastfeeding need to be discontinued by giving mothers correct information, gaining male support for EBF, and empowering mothers in the community to be ‘peer change agents for exclusive breastfeeding’.
Keywords: Infant Feeding; First-Time Mothers; Qualitative Investigation; Breast Feeding; Nigeria
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