Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Evans, Marilyn

2nd Supervisor

Jackson, Kim



The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that newborns be fed breastmilk exclusively for the first 6 months of life unless medically contraindicated. Non-White African migrant women in developed countries experience breastfeeding challenges that shorten breastfeeding duration compared to women in their countries of origin. The purpose of this systematic review was to synthesize available qualitative research evidence to understand the breastfeeding experiences of non-White African migrant women residing in industrialized nations. Eight electronic databases were assessed and the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) was used for quality assessment of studies. Ten peer-reviewed qualitative research articles published in English between 2003 and 2016 that examined the breastfeeding experiences of non-White African migrant women in developed countries were selected for the review. Data were extracted into NVivo 12 software and analyzed using thematic synthesis. Eight analytical themes were identified: Breastfeeding as the accepted norm, Breastfeeding is convenient and enjoyable, Breastfeeding is stressful, Women’s inadequate breastfeeding knowledge, Perceived insufficient milk supply, Preference of formula, Family and friends’ support and Health professional’s support. Findings indicate that non-White African migrant women value breastfeeding but do not maintain exclusivity due to cultural beliefs. Family support especially infant’ grandmother’s support has a strong influence on women’s breastfeeding experiences. Despite the various breastfeeding challenges these African migrant women experienced, they still maintained long durations of breastfeeding up to 9 to 12 months. Family involvement in breastfeeding education and support services are crucial strategies health professionals need to include when caring for non-White African migrant women. Effective steps are needed to eliminate the negative connotations of breastfeeding publicly. Providing conducive and comfortable public and work environments to breastfeed will be beneficial to women and improve breastfeeding experiences.

Keywords: breastfeeding experiences, African migrants, qualitative studies, systematic review.

Included in

Nursing Commons