n African Journal for Physical Health Education, Recreation and Dance - The influence of the family on adherence to exclusive breastfeeding : experiences of women living in extended family households in poorly resourced communities of Mpumalanga Province, South Africa : child nutrition and feeding practices

Supplement 1
  • ISSN : 1117-4315


Mixed feeding early in a baby's life is a barrier to the effectiveness of the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV strategy. Women are influenced by a variety of factors to adhere or depart from exclusive feeding practice. The study examined the influence of the extended family on adherence to exclusive breastfeeding among HIV-positive post-natal women receiving PMTCT services. The study adopted qualitative design and conducted focus group and in-depth interviews with post-natal women in a primary health clinic in one of the municipalities of Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. The sample comprised 40 HIV infected post natal mothers of babies aged between six weeks and six months who opted for exclusive breastfeeding. Most women were single, unemployed, and living in extended family households. This resulted in the family interfering in how and what the baby should be fed. Women received pressures to give solids, water-based fluids, formula, and complementary and traditional medicines early in the baby's life. Women were also pressured to perform various cultural practices which involved oral ingestion of traditional medicine by the baby. The findings also revealed that most women were motivated by the desire to protect their babies from HIV infection and adhered to exclusive breastfeeding despite pressures from the family which lacked knowledge and justification for exclusive breastfeeding. Families and communities should be involved in the education and counselling about PMTCT interventions in order to support the HIV positive woman to adhere to exclusive feeding options.

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