Understanding Infant Feeding Following Diabetes in Pregnancy: A Qualitative Research Study
Thursday, February 13, 2020
1:30 PM – 1:45 PM
Location: Max Bell - MB253
Introduction: Mothers who have diabetes in pregnancy (DIP) tend to have lower rates of exclusive breastfeeding as compared to the general population, despite research suggesting additional health benefits for these mothers and their babies. Little is understood about the reasons behind this association. Therefore this study aimed to provide insight into how having DIP might affect women’s infant feeding behaviours.
Methods: Women with DIP were recruited during pregnancy and interviewed between 3-6 months postpartum. 24 interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Interview data were thematically analyzed. Discussion themes were compared between women who were exclusive breast-feeders versus non-exclusive breastfeeders to assess similarities and differences between the two groups.
Results: All women spoke about challenges they experienced while breastfeeding such as having issues with latching and sore nipples. They did not explicitly mention any link between having diabetes and their ability to breastfeed. However, some women discussed issues with “low milk supply”. Women who were exclusively breastfeeding discussed persevering despite challenges whereas non-exclusive breastfeeders discussed resorting to formula supplementation as a resolution; although both groups were keen to breastfeed. Some exclusive breastfeeders reported paying for “external supports” such as a doula or infant feeding classes, whereas no non-exclusive breastfeeders reported seeking such supports. Non-exclusive breastfeeders emphasized a need for non-judgemental information for women who are unable to breastfeed, prior to birth.
Conclusion: Women who have DIP face breastfeeding challenges, although these may not all be a result of their diabetes. Those who are able to exclusively breastfeed their babies appear to be better equipped for overcoming challenges. By gaining a better understanding of the ‘real life’ experiences of women, we can inform support strategies that help mothers and babies in Alberta to have the best start in life.