Postpartum breastfeeding experiences in the traditional-biomedical crossroads: A qualitative study using drawing with Vietnamese and Myanmarese refugee women in Australia Academic Article uri icon


  • AIMS:To explore how postpartum support networks, hospital stay and healthcare services had an impact on breastfeeding experiences of refugee women from Vietnam and Myanmar in Brisbane, Australia. DESIGN:A qualitative study guided by feminist methodological inquiry. METHODS:Semi-structured interviews and drawing exercises were conducted with recent (<10 years) and established (≥10 years) refugee women between July 2015 - June 2016. Verbal data were analysed thematically, whereas drawings were analysed with the critical visual analytical framework. RESULTS:The findings reflect how 36 mothers negotiated their breastfeeding experiences in the "traditional-biomedical" intersection (major theme) in face of changing support networks, social structures, hospital policies and postpartum services postresettlement (sub-themes). Tensions of cultural unfamiliarity in the western setting generally contributed to early breastfeeding cessation among recent arrivals, whereas social (extended families, tertiary education) and cultural (English literacy) capitals and a longer stay in Australia enabled established arrivals to integrate the traditional and western biomedical beliefs. CONCLUSION:The ability of established arrivals to integrate both traditional and western worldviews may assist in addressing breastfeeding uncertainties that affect recent arrivals. Perspectives of midwives from the western postnatal spheres merit future exploration. IMPACT:Positive early breastfeeding experiences lead to its long-term success. By identifying the impact that conflicting beliefs have on breastfeeding experiences of refugees in the western biomedical environment, this study suggests how interventions that focus on reinforcing maternal cultural and social capital could benefit community empowerment, healthcare and policy sectors nationally and globally.

publication date

  • 2019

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