Data from previous studies indicate a short duration of breastfeeding, especially exclusive breastfeeding, among infants of immigrant mothers living in Norway and other Western countries. Norway has a long tradition of supporting breastfeeding.
To explore infant feeding practices among Somali-born mothers in Norway, and the ways in which they navigate among different information sources.
Qualitative in-depth interviews and focus groups were carried out with mothers of children 6, 12 and 24 months of age. Women were recruited by a multi-recruitment strategy. Twenty-one mothers participated in interviews and twenty-two in five focus groups. The analysis was guided by Grounded Theory.
The mothers had positive attitudes to breastfeeding, but were unfamiliar with the concept of exclusive breastfeeding. Early introduction of water and infant formula was a common practice that interfered with exclusive breastfeeding. The mothers experienced challenges of dealing with conflicting recommendations and expectations regarding infant feeding. They navigated among different sources of information, taking into consideration traditional values, experiences and habits from living in Norway, and research-based knowledge. Their prioritization of the different information sources varied with different life situations, children's age, and the extent to which the mothers trusted the information sources.
Despite the strong focus on breastfeeding in Norway, Somali-born mothers encounter obstacles in their breastfeeding practices. These may be due to lack of information about exclusive breastfeeding and to the conflicting information they received. Breastfeeding practices may be enhanced by promoting culturally sensitive communication, and relations of trust at health-care centers.