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Deaf Mothers and Breastfeeding: Do Unique Features of Deaf Culture and Language Support Breastfeeding Success?
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Details:
  • Pubmed ID:
    23492762
  • Pubmed Central ID:
    PMC4112581
  • Funding:
    R01-HD055191/HD/NICHD NIH HHS/United States
    U48 DP000031/DP/NCCDPHP CDC HHS/United States
    U48 DP001910/DP/NCCDPHP CDC HHS/United States
    U48DP000031/DP/NCCDPHP CDC HHS/United States
    R01 HD055191/HD/NICHD NIH HHS/United States
    U48DP001910/DP/NCCDPHP CDC HHS/United States
  • Document Type:
  • Collection(s):
  • Description:
    Background

    Deaf mothers who use American Sign Language (ASL) consider themselves a linguistic minority group, with specific cultural practices. Rarely has this group been engaged in infant-feeding research.

    Objectives

    To understand how ASL-using Deaf mothers learn about infant feeding and to identify their breastfeeding challenges.

    Methods

    Using a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach we conducted four focus groups with Deaf mothers who had at least one child 0–5 years. A script was developed using a social ecological model (SEM) to capture multiple levels of influence. All groups were conducted in ASL, filmed, and transcribed into English. Deaf and hearing researchers analyzed data by coding themes within each SEM level.

    Results

    Fifteen mothers participated. All had initiated breastfeeding with their most recent child. Breastfeeding duration for eight of the mothers was three weeks to 12 months. Seven of the mothers were still breastfeeding, the longest for 19 months. Those mothers who breastfed longer described a supportive social environment and the ability to surmount challenges. Participants described characteristics of Deaf culture such as direct communication, sharing information, use of technologies, language access through interpreters and ASL-using providers, and strong self-advocacy skills. Finally, mothers used the sign ‘struggle’ to describe their breastfeeding experience. The sign implies a sustained effort over time which leads to success.

    Conclusions

    In a setting with a large population of Deaf women and ASL-using providers, we identified several aspects of Deaf culture and language which support BF mothers across institutional, community, and interpersonal levels of the SEM.