Ūkaipōtanga: a grounded theory on optimising breastfeeding for Māori women and their whānau

Hayes Edwards, Isabel Tui Rangipohutu
Wilson, Denise
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Master of Public Health
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Auckland University of Technology

Ūkaipōtanga: A grounded theory on optimising breastfeeding for Māori women and their whānau provides an explanation about how Māori women can achieve optimal breastfeeding. Health data indicates that Māori breastfeeding rates in the past decade have not improved, and continues to be much lower than non-Māori. The question that guided this grounded theory research was, ‘What is happening for Māori mothers and breastfeeding?’ This research utilised a Kaupapa Māori methodology that informed Charmaz’s constructivist grounded theory method. Eight women who self-identified as Māori, residing within the Eastern Bay of Plenty, aged between 19 and 36 years, who had breastfed within the past 10 years, were interviewed. A Kaupapa Māori health provider was also interviewed as part of the theoretical sampling. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, and digitally recorded and transcribed. In addition, field notes and reflective memos were documented. The transcripts were the main data source, and were analysed using a process of constant comparative analysis along with theoretical sampling until data saturation was reached to generate the constructivist grounded theory. The basic process, ūkaipōtanga (nurturing), optimises Māori women’s breastfeeding and contributes to whānau ora, knowledge and skills for supporting other mothers. Three subcategories were identified: getting ready explains what is required for a pregnant wahine, her partner and whānau to prepare for the birth and breastfeeding; having an engaging midwife explains the importance of the midwife’s engagement with pregnant wāhine, mothers, her partner and whānau; and having supportive systems explains what forms of support are needed to assist a mother to breastfeed from postnatal stage to six months and beyond. The significance of this grounded theory research is that it was able to identify what and how Māori women achieved optimal breastfeeding, and identified that ūkaipōtanga (nurturing) is an important part of this process. The midwife and the partner and whānau play important roles in the ūkaipōtanga process, and for promoting breastfeeding. Accessible kaupapa Māori antenatal education beginning in the second trimester of pregnancy, and supportive midwifery and well child/Tamariki Ora services after the baby is born is a crucial element in Māori women successfully breastfeeding. Equally important, is the environments created that promote Māori wāhine breastfeeding that should be considered by health services, employers, policy makers and the wider community.

Ūkaipōtanga (nurturing) , Breastfeeding , Māori , Optimising
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