Collections > Master's Papers > Gillings School of Public Health > A Conceptual Framework for Understanding the Associations Between Experience of Violence and Women's Breastfeeding Decisions in a South African Context

Breastfeeding initiation and exclusivity have been shown to have a myriad of benefits for both mother and infant; however, breastfeeding continuation in South Africa is relatively low. One possible contributor to this phenomenon could be the high incidence of violence against women within this context. A thorough review of the individual and combined literatures on violence against women and breastfeeding was carried out to identify potential pathways connecting women's experiences of violence to their breastfeeding continuation decisions. Additional information about the social and historical context of these topics in South Africa was also gathered. The literature supports a conceptual framework in which major factors mediating the effect of violence on breastfeeding in South Africa include race, HIV status, mental health consequences of violence, and women's support systems. This conceptual model will be useful for informing further research on the impact of violence on breastfeeding decisions in South Africa. It will also be helpful to inform programmatic work since research has shown that context-specific interventions have greater impact.