Maternal Perceptions of Infant Feeding and Health in the Context of the 2015 Nepal Earthquake

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Abstract

Background:

Displacement caused by the 2015 earthquake in Nepal exacerbated poor health and nutrition for thousands of women and children.

Research aim:

This study aimed to identify the perceptions of Nepalese mothers residing in earthquake relocation camps regarding barriers, facilitators, and situational factors influencing breastfeeding and family well-being.

Methods:

An exploratory, rapid ethnographic approach was used during two fieldwork phases. Phase 1 consisted of reconnaissance and observation, whereas Phase 2 consisted of observation and qualitative semistructured interviews with infant caretakers (N = 14).

Results:

We found evidence of human milk substitutes donated by various groups after the earthquake, despite Nepal’s media statement condemning these donations. Participants in this study expressed concerns about their milk supply. They also expressed concerns about the impending winter season combined with distress about the 2015 fuel crisis and the impact that this had on their infants and children. Furthermore, participants expressed choices about infant feeding that were influenced by traditional Nepalese practices. Specifically, homemade complementary foods and spices designed to boost lactation were identified as being used during daily infant feeding practices.

Conclusion:

Infant caretakers need culturally specific support for breastfeeding after disasters. These findings can directly influence future interventions concerning Nepalese mothers’ perceptions, infant care, and feeding practices in disaster scenarios.

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