Barriers and Facilitators to Exclusive Breastfeeding Among Black Mothers: A qualitative study utilizing a Modified Barrier Analysis approach

Document Type


Summary Description

This study identified factors which made Black mothers more or less likely to exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first 3 months of life.


Breastfeeding has health benefits for both infants and mothers, yet Black mothers and infants are less likely to receive these benefits. Despite research showing no difference in breastfeeding intentions by race or ethnicity, inequities in breastfeeding rates persist, suggesting that Black mothers face unique barriers to meeting their breastfeeding intentions. The aim of this study is to identify barriers and facilitators that Black women perceive as important determinants of exclusively breastfeeding their children for at least 3 months after birth. Utilizing a Barrier Analysis approach, we conducted six focus group discussions, hearing from Black mothers who exclusively breastfed for 3 months and those who did not. Transcripts were coded starting with a priori parent codes based on theory-derived determinants mapped onto the Socioecological Model; themes were analysed for differences between groups. Facilitators found to be important specifically for women who exclusively breastfed for 3 months include self-efficacy, lactation support, appropriate lactation supplies, support of mothers and partners, prior knowledge of breastfeeding, strong intention before birth and perceptions of breastfeeding as money-saving. Barriers that arose more often among those who did not exclusively breastfeed for 3 months include inaccessible lactation support and supplies, difficulties with pumping, latching issues and perceptions of breastfeeding as time-consuming. Lack of access to and knowledge of breastfeeding laws and policies, as well as negative cultural norms or stigma, were important barriers across groups. This study supports the use of the Socioecological Model to design multicomponent interventions to increase exclusive breastfeeding outcomes for Black women.

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Category Tags

Family, Pregnancy, and Childhood; Racial Justice and Racism

New Haven Neighborhood

New Haven (All)