This is specifically of value considering that INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY
according to the World Health Organization (WHO), Grandmothers are frequently cited as being new parents require active support for establishing influential in the introduction of supplemental and sustaining appropriate breastfeeding practices. feeding in the early weeks of breastfeeding. Furthermore, Health Canada recommends that However, despite the known influence of there is a need of a better understanding of factors grandmothers on infant feeding patterns, there is no that impact breastfeeding outcomes in order to research specifically directed at grandmothers of contribute to successful breastfeeding strategies; breastfed babies. With an absence of a strategies that help deliver support as well as grandmother’s voice in the literature about education, training and community enhancement. breastfeeding, it makes one question if society still believes that breastfeeding outcomes are reflective THE STUDY only of the experiences of the breastfeeding mother? The research question that guided this study is If this is true, a research study such as this, focused “what is the experience of women who are on understanding a grandmother’s perspective on grandmothers to babies who are breastfed?” breastfeeding can possibly add to our ability as a The following objectives were set: society to enhance capacity for breastfeeding. 1. Understand the role a woman plays as the grandmother of a breastfed baby.
SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY 2. Explore the experiences of grandmothers
to understand how her perspective of Currently, both the World Health Organization
breastfeeding plays a role in her (WHO) and Health Canada recommends there be
grandchild’s health exclusive breastfeeding for six months and
3. Explore the experiences of grandmothers continued breastfeeding for two years and beyond.
to identify future research and policy In 2003, Canadian breastfeeding initiation rates
issues that relate to building the capacity were 84.5 %. According to Statistics Canada in
2003, 38.4% of children were breastfed exclusively
A hermeneutic phenomenological approach to for at least four months and 18.7% of children were
research was used to convey the experiences of breastfed exclusively for at least six months. These
grandmothers of breastfed babies. A hermeneutic percentages are revealing compared to Norway
phenomenological inquiry, allows ones to become where initiation rates are nearly 100% and more
aware of the significance in the taken for granted than 80% of babies are breastfed at three months.
and move beyond their present understanding to a
new fuller understanding. This approach gave a Infant feeding practices have changed significantly
voice to grandmother, a voice that is absent from throughout the last 50 years. Today’s expectant
current breastfeeding literature. Interviews were grandmothers likely fed their children at a time when
conducted with the participants before and after the breastfeeding and formula were viewed as
birth of their grandchild. Grandmothers of breastfed equivalent. They may, therefore, be more receptive
babies were asked to talk about their life to the marketing of infant formula than their
experiences of being a mother and a grandmother. daughters or daughters-in-law. Given this literature, it is clear that without an understanding of the
grandmother’s experience there is a huge gap in
our knowledge about one significant source of
support for the breastfeeding mother.
Key Take Away Messages Research Furthermore, it was suggested that the following
steps be taken by health professionals, decision It was demonstrated through the results of the
makers, and the general public to bring awareness interviews, the experiences of the researcher, in to this important piece of breastfeeding capacity. addition to supportive literature, that in order to ? Target prenatal gatekeepers (i.e. lactation strengthen society’s capacity to support successful consultants, decision makers, and policy breastfeeding outcomes, there is a need to makers, etc.) to encourage expecting parents to understand the role grandmothers play in infant invite their parents to prenatal classes. feeding. The study’s results were two-fold, ? Distribute accurate breastfeeding information to recognizing the importance of building the capacity grandparents, in order to enhance the of grandmother in addition to Health Professionals, education of breastfeeding. Policy Makers, Decision Makers and Researchers.
Building the Capacity of Health Professionals,
Policy Makers & Researchers Building the Capacity of Grandmothers By sharing the stories of the grandmothers, It was Since, research is often communicated in a manner shown that a grandmother’s experiences, that is not utilized and therefore having minimal or misconceptions about infant feeding and lack of no impact, it was emphasized through this study recognition of the role she plays as a grandmother that researchers, health professionals, policy of a breastfed baby, influences the advice she makers and other decision makers need to explore passes on to her children regarding infant feeding. ways to translate their work so that it can be utilized. The importance of developing strategies to engage “I know lots of the things that she is doing is with targeted audience and the need for an because we did it as parents...” understanding of each other’s values and priorities,
“Well it was something that I really didn’t go into with work was also one of they key take away messages 100%…but I went in and said I will try it but if I don’t of this study. like it I will quit…” It was concluded that that there is a need to better “Well in those days you had to be fairly discrete...” understand the knowledge that informs policy
Through this research, the importance of makers, in relation to the provision of support to recognizing how expectations and mixed breastfeeding women. It was also suggested that information new parents receive about infant we turn to other research approaches, rather than feeding from health professionals, lactation only employing traditional scientific approaches consultants, friends, family members, results in often used in the past. anxiety and added stress was illustrated. Considering the preventative effect breastfeeding “Now I probably would question how long she does has on obesity and other chronic conditions, and the breastfeed, because if she breastfeeds after a year I high instances of these conditions in Atlantic would certainly question why is she still
Canada, investing in breastfeeding promotion is one breastfeeding… I think you can breastfeed for too long
as well…soon as they started having teeth…” the of the best ways to improve the health of Atlantic Canadians. However to improve “Reassurance I think is probably more what I would breastfeeding outcomes, breastfeeding has to be describe as what she is looking for when she calls...” viewed as a public health issue rather than merely a It was therefore concluded that because a lifestyle choice. Hence, research such as this, which grandmother’s experiences may influence makes us aware of the importance of capacity breastfeeding outcomes, there is a need to further building in breastfeeding support, promotion and understand the role grandmothers play in protection, is essential to the development of breastfeeding, by conducting further research in this healthy public policies. area. For more information please contact: Amy Lewis Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: (902 431-4510)