Breastfeeding is considered the normal way to feed an infant. Women with physical disabilities (WWPD) are less likely to breastfeed compared to women who do not have physical disabilities. Improved support from healthcare providers is required to bridge this gap. There is currently a paucity of research on techniques used to facilitate breastfeeding in this population. The primary objective of this study was to create a summary of breastfeeding techniques and aids utilized by women with physical disabilities. Secondary objectives were to understand breastfeeding challenges and the level of breastfeeding support experienced by women with physical disabilities.
A descriptive study was used to address our objectives. Women were eligible if they used a mobility device or had a condition that caused significant dysmobility, weakness or pain that limited their mobility and had breastfed a baby within the past 10 years. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to inquire about breastfeeding techniques, support, feeding challenges, and experiences with health care providers. A qualitative analysis of the transcripts was conducted using grounded theory by two authors. All transcripts were coded in Dedoose software and interrater reliability was calculated using Cohen’s kappa statistic.
Eleven women participated in our study. Overall, the use of pillows (11/11) and physical support from a partner (8/11) were the most reported techniques to facilitate breastfeeding. Women reported a variety of breastfeeding holds including cradle, cross-cradle and side-lying holds. The football hold was described as the least beneficial position. Most women described feeling supported in their decision to breastfeed. The most commonly reported breastfeeding challenge was difficulty positioning baby due to maternal mobility issues such as spasticity and weakness.
This is the first known study to assess breastfeeding techniques used by WWPD. WWPD have breastfeeding challenges specific to the disabled community, and utilize specific positions and aids to achieve breastfeeding goals. It is hoped that by understanding these experiences healthcare providers can better support WWPD who are breastfeeding.
© 2018 Published by Elsevier Inc.