Timing of Breastfeeding Initiation in Rural Haiti: A Focused Ethnography

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A focused ethnography aimed at describing the factors affecting the timing of breastfeeding initiation among Haitian mothers, particularly the specific cultural beliefs and practices was conducted in Artibonite, Haiti during June of 2013. A total of 25 Haitian mothers with children less than 12 months old participated in the study, which included the use of interviews, observations, and artifacts as data sources. A thick description was developed through the integration of qualitative and quantitative data. The self-reported timing of breastfeeding initiation ranged from 10 minutes birth to 24 hours after birth among the 23 participants able to quantify the specific time of breastfeeding initiation. Early breastfeeding initiation (breastfeeding initiation in the first hour of life) occurred with 16 (64%) of the sample and delayed breastfeeding initiation occurred with the remaining 9 (36%) of the sample. Mothers described baby care by birth attendants as well as actual and perceived health issues of the mother and child as some of the factors influencing timing of breastfeeding initiation. Future research should further explore factors influencing timing of breastfeeding initiation particularly from the perspective of various types of birth attendants.