Family and religion’s influence on Arab immigrant mothers’ initiation and exclusive breastfeeding

Roqaia Ahmad Dorri, Tam Truong Donnelly, Elaine McKiel, Shelley Raffin Bouchal


Breastfeeding is known to provide health benefits for newborns and breastfeeding mothers. The World Health Organization and Health Canada recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant’s life. However, the rates of exclusive breastfeeding practices among Arab immigrant mothers are lower when compared with rates for non-immigrant Canadian mothers and mothers in the immigrants’ countries of origin. Critical ethnography was used to explore the breastfeeding practices among immigrant Arab mothers in Alberta, Canada, and factors influencing their decision or ability to breastfeed exclusively. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 10 participants, followed by thematic analysis of the qualitative narrative data. The results indicated that family and religion are the sociocultural factors that primarily influenced the mothers’ initiation and exclusive breastfeeding practices. The findings from this study can facilitate culturally safe and sensitive interventions to address Arab mothers’ breastfeeding needs and promote exclusive breastfeeding within this population in Canada.

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International Journal of Healthcare  ISSN 2377-7338(Print)  ISSN 2377-7346(Online)

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