Perception and emotional experiences of infant feeding among women living with HIV in a high-income setting: A longitudinal mixed methods study

Ellen Moseholm*, Michael D Fetters, Inka Aho, Åsa Mellgren, Isik S Johansen, Terese L Katzenstein , Gitte Pedersen, Merete Storgaard, Nina Weis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


BACKGROUND: The recommendation of breastfeeding avoidance for women living with HIV in high-income settings may be influenced by cultural beliefs and come at an emotional cost. This multicenter, longitudinal, convergent mixed methods study aimed to compare differences in attitudes, concerns, and experiences surrounding breastfeeding in women living with HIV of Nordic and non-Nordic origin.

SETTING: High-income setting.

METHODS: Pregnant women living with HIV in the Nordic countries Denmark, Finland, and Sweden were recruited in 2019-2020. Quantitative data on attitudes surrounding infant feeding were assessed using the Positive Attitudes Concerning Infant Feeding questionnaire completed in the third trimester (T1), and 3 (T2) and 6 (T3) months postpartum. Women who completed the survey were also invited to participate in semistructured interviews at T1 and T3. The findings from the quantitative survey and qualitative interviews were brought together through merging to assess for concordance, complementarity, expansion, or discordance between the data sets and to draw metainferences.

RESULTS: In total, 44 women completed the survey, of whom 31 also participated in qualitative interviews. The merged analyses identified three overarching domains representing commonalities across the quantitative and qualitative data: emotional impact, justifying not breastfeeding, and coping strategies. Not being able to breastfeed was emotionally challenging. Cultural expectations influenced the women's experiences and the strategies they used to justify their infant feeding choice.

CONCLUSIONS: For women living with HIV in Nordic countries not breastfeeding was a complex, multilayered process substantially influenced by social and cultural expectations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)52-64
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

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  • Breast Feeding/psychology
  • Female
  • HIV Infections/psychology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Mothers/psychology
  • Perception
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women


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