A qualitative descriptive inquiry into factors influencing early weaning and breastfeeding duration among first-time mothers in Papua New Guinea’s rural eastern highlands

  • McKenzie Ken Maviso
    Corresponding author at: Division of Public Health, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Papua New Guinea, PO Box 5623, Boroko 111, National Capital District, Papua New Guinea.
    Division of Public Health, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
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  • Bridget Ferguson
    School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Sciences, Higher Education Division, Central Queensland University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
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  • Lillian Maye Kaforau
    Pacific Technical and Further Education (TAFE) Science, Technology & Environment, College of Foundation Studies, University of South Pacific, Honiara Campus, Solomon Islands
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  • Tanya Capper
    School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Sciences, Higher Education Division, Central Queensland University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
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Published:January 20, 2021DOI:



      Exclusive breastfeeding confers multiple maternal and child health benefits. Although breastfeeding initiation following birth is common in Papua New Guinea, many first-time mothers may not achieve optimal breastfeeding duration.


      This study aims to explore and describe factors influencing early weaning and breastfeeding duration among first-time mothers in Papua New Guinea’s rural eastern highlands.


      A qualitative descriptive approach was adopted in this study. Data were collected through semi-structured in-depth interviews with 20 first-time mothers. The interviews transcripts were then thematically analysed.


      Three key themes identified were: source of breastfeeding information and support; social networks and breastfeeding communication; and balancing perceived gender and maternal roles. The study further identified a lack of fathers’ involvement in supporting breastfeeding.


      Social and relational networks, and maternal factors need to be considered to better understand breastfeeding practices. Efforts to achieve optimal breastfeeding outcomes entail targeted and culturally appropriate programs, including fathers’ involvement as they play important roles in breastfeeding and infant feeding practices.


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