Navigating infant feeding supports after migration: Perspectives of Arabic and Chinese mothers and health professionals in Australia

Sarah Marshall, Sarah Taki, Penny Love, Marianne Kearney, Nancy Tam, Marial Sabry, Konsita Kuswara, Yvonne Laird, Li Ming Wen, Chris Rissel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Optimal feeding practices can establish lifelong, transgenerational and global health benefits. Migration and cultural factors impact infant feeding practices and the support mothers receive for optimal infant feeding. This qualitative study explored support for infant feeding among Arabic and Chinese speaking migrant mothers in Australia. Semi-structured focus groups were conducted in language with 24 Arabic and 22 Chinese-Mandarin speaking migrant mothers with children under five years of age. Individual interviews were conducted in English with 20 health professionals working with Arabic or Chinese speaking migrant families. Data were thematically analysed using the framework method. Traditional family networks and trusted bi-cultural doctors were influential infant feeding supports for mothers. Health professionals perceived maternal and child health services to be poorly understood, and some mothers who accessed services felt they were not always culturally sensitive. Mothers sought additional information and support through online sources and peers. Both mothers and health professionals recognised the challenges of managing conflicting infant feeding advice and seeking best-practice support. The findings of this study highlight opportunities for health professionals to better support migrant mothers’ infant feeding practices, for example through engaging families and working with doctors. There is a need for greater cultural sensitivity within maternal and child health services and culturally relevant programs to support healthy infant feeding practices among migrant communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-356
Number of pages10
JournalWomen and Birth
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes


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