Breastfeeding in Samoa: a study to explore women's knowledge and the factors which influence infant feeding practices

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Lucy E. Archer
  • Thomas F. Dunne
  • Lauren J. Lock
  • Lucy A. Price
  • Zubair Ahmed

Colleges, School and Institutes


A decline in breastfeeding rates in Samoa has been reported over the last century. To assess the length of time women breastfeed, their knowledge of both the advantages of and recommendations for breastfeeding, and the factors that influence their decisions to continue or discontinue breastfeeding, a questionnaire was distributed at Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital. One hundred and twenty-one eligible participants were included aged 18-50 years (mean age 28.2). Ninety percent of participants initiated breastfeeding, and the majority (78%) of babies were exclusively breastfed for at least the recommended 6 months. Many mothers introduced complementary (solid) foods later than World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nation's International Children's Fund (UNICEF) recommendations of 6 months. Awareness of the advantages of breastfeeding was mixed. The most widely known advantage was "the development of an emotional bond between mother and baby" (67%). Other advantages were less widely known. Only a small minority were aware that breastfeeding reduces risk of maternal diabetes and aids weight loss post partum. Doctors and healthcare workers were listed as the top factors encouraging breastfeeding. Participants' comments revealed a generally positive attitude towards breastfeeding, a very encouraging finding. Participants identified that the number of breastfeeding breaks available at work and the length of their maternity leave were factors discouraging breastfeeding. Future studies are necessary to determine if problems identified in this study are applicable on a national level. These could be important to determine measures to improve breastfeeding practices in Samoa.

Bibliographic note

©Copyright 2017 by University Clinical, Education & Research Associates (UCERA)


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-22
Number of pages8
JournalHawai'i journal of medicine & public health : a journal of Asia Pacific Medicine & Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Adolescent, Adult, Breast Feeding/methods, Feeding Behavior/psychology, Female, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Humans, Middle Aged, Perception, Samoa, Surveys and Questionnaires, Women/psychology