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UBC Theses and Dissertations

East meets West : exploring immigrant Chinese mothers’ breastfeeding choices Chen, Wil-Lie


Although breastfeeding choices among Chinese mothers are a major challenge for health professionals in the Western biomedical care system, few studies have systematically examined this issue in depth. The purpose of this study was to explore how immigrant Chinese mothers made decisions about their breastfeeding practices. The study was conducted using mixed methods, including both a quantitative and a qualitative aspect. The quantitative aspect derived from the analysis of responses obtained in a telephone survey of 250 women; the qualitative aspect used interpretive description methods to obtain indepth information from interviews with 15 women. The findings of this study revealed that the Chinese mothers' beliefs about breastfeeding reflect a combination of personal beliefs based on traditional holistic Chinese medical care, personal experiences, and ideas deriving from conventional Western biomedical care. Decision-making as to their infant feeding practices was found to be related to how they dealt with contradictions between beliefs and practices about breastfeeding, how they negotiated these contradictions, and how they developed individualized strategies within them. The theoretical knowledge developed in this study may help nurses and health care professionals to provide interventions and support that are more appropriate and effective in relation to the infant feeding practices of Chinese immigrant women. Further investigation is needed to verify, strengthen and further develop the theoretical claims developed in this study. Research is also needed to develop and evaluate interventions that may assist Chinese immigrant mothers in their decision making around breastfeeding practices. The findings of this study illuminate the complexities inherent in the blending of cultural care across divergent worldviews and serve as a foundation for further investigation in this field.

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