Experiences of HIV-Infected Mothers Regarding Exclusive BreastFeeding in the First Six Months of the Infant’s Life in Mangaung, South Africa

Selloane Phakisi, Johanna M. Mathibe-Neke


In 2011, the Department of Health in South Africa committed to promote, support and protect breast-feeding. Subsequently, the supply of free formula milk to HIV-infected mothers was discontinued, with these mothers encouraged to breast-feed. This was also in compliance with the WHO‘s call for countries to adopt a single-feeding practice for HIV-infected mothers. This study explored the experiences of HIV-infected mothers regarding exclusive breast-feeding in the first six months following an infant‘s birth. Qualitative data was collected through in-depth unstructured interviews at a community health centre among mothers aged 18 years and above, who opted for exclusive breast-feeding. Thematic data analysis was undertaken. The study results revealed that mothers had positive experiences, such as motivation, satisfaction and being well informed. Some mothers had negative experiences, such as anxiety, family pressure and guilt, leading to non-adherence to exclusive breast-feeding. The experiences of participating mothers were mainly influenced by socio-cultural issues and information from healthcare workers. The study findings highlight the need to intensify advocacy, communication and social mobilization to the communities at large regarding exclusive breastfeeding. (Afr J Reprod Health 2019; 23[4]:27-34).

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