Barriers and Facilitators to Breastfeeding Practices Among Immigrant Muslim Arab Women Living in a Metropolitan Area of the Southwestern United States

Wafa F. Khasawneh, Megan E. Petrov, Azza H. Ahmed, Elizabeth Reifsnider, Pauline Komnenich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Immigrant Muslim Arab women are a fast-growing and underserved minority group in the United States. Immigrant Muslim Arab women face breastfeeding challenges in accessing and seeking healthcare. Little is known about breastfeeding challenges that immigrant Muslim Arab women face to establish successful breastfeeding. This study aimed to identify the barriers and facilitators to adequate breastfeeding among immigrant Muslim Arab women who reside in a metropolitan area of the Southwestern United States and inform recommendations for practice. Methods: A cross-sectional, descriptive study was used to identify facilitators and barriers to adequate breastfeeding using the social–ecological model of health promotion. A survey was carried out with a convenience sample of 116 immigrant Muslim Arab women with at least one child, 5 years or younger, from a large metropolitan area between September and November 2016. Results: Facilitators of breastfeeding within the sample were high intentions to breastfeed, positive breastfeeding attitudes related to the benefits of breastfeeding, religious teachings promoting breastfeeding, and encouragement to breastfeed from the mothers’ social support system. Several barriers to successful breastfeeding were related to lacking the specific knowledge of the benefits of breastfeeding and discomfort with breastfeeding in public and in front of strangers. Conclusions: Nurses and healthcare providers need to apply ecological breastfeeding interventions to promote optimal breastfeeding in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-26
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Lactation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024


  • breastfeeding
  • cultural competence
  • ethnic group
  • support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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