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Breastfeeding, wage labor, and insufficient milk in peri-urban Kathmandu, Nepal

Breastfeeding, wage labor, and insufficient milk in peri-urban Kathmandu, Nepal

Medical Anthropology 21(2): 207-230

This article presents a case study of breastfeeding mothers who are working as carpet-makers in peri-urban Kathmandu, Nepal. A sample of women surveyed about their current infant feeding practices revealed that half of the infants aged three to four months had been introduced to non-breast milk foods and liquids. During in-depth interviews some mothers explained that they supplemented breastfeeding with either milk or solids if they felt that they did not have enough breast milk for their infants. Reports of insufficient milk (IM) among these Nepali women is discussed within the larger context of IM as a worldwide phenomenon that is often associated with the cessation of breastfeeding and the switch to bottle-feeding based on commercial milk products. On average, the women in this study breastfed their infants until the latter were approximately three years of age. A status quo method for determining median duration of breastfeeding indicates that there is no significant difference in the duration of breastfeeding between mothers who work in carpet-making factories and those who spin wool at home. It is argued that reports of IM in this setting are not associated with the abandonment of breastfeeding, for a number of reasons including: the cultural approbation of breastfeeding; the low usage of baby bottles among peri-urban mothers, and the flexible labor practices of the carpet-making industry.

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Accession: 045403695

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PMID: 12126275

DOI: 10.1080/01459740212902

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