Psychological factors are important in influencing breastfeeding practices. This retrospective study explored knowledge and attitudes related to breastfeeding of Chinese mothers living in Ireland.
A cross-sectional self-administrated survey written in Chinese was distributed to a convenience sample of 322 immigrant Chinese mothers mainly via Chinese supermarkets and Chinese language schools in Dublin, with the involvement of the snowball method to increase sample size. Maternal breastfeeding knowledge and attitudes were described, their associations with socio-demographic variables were explored by Chi-square analysis, and their independent associations with breastfeeding behaviours were estimated by binary logistic regression analyses.
In spite of considerable awareness of the advantages of breastfeeding (mean score=4.03+/-0.73), some misconceptions (e.g. ‘mother should stop breastfeeding if she catches a cold’) and negative attitudes (e.g. breastfeeding inconvenient, embarrassing, and adverse to mothers’ figure) existed, especially among the less educated mothers. Cultural beliefs concerning the traditional Chinese postpartum diet were prevalent, particularly among those who had lived in Ireland for a shorter duration (P=0.004). Psychological parameters had strong independent associations with breastfeeding practices in this study. Those who had lower awareness score (OR=2.98, 95% CI: 1.87-4.73), more misconceptions and negative attitudes (P<0.05), and weaker cultural beliefs (P<0.05) were less likely to breastfeed.
Findings highlight a need to focus resources and education on correcting the misconceptions identified and reversing the negative attitudes towards breastfeeding among Chinese mothers in Ireland, in particular those with primary/secondary level of education. Mothers’ cultural beliefs should also be acknowledged and understood by healthcare providers.