• Zalikha Al-Marzouqi

Student thesis: Phd


Background and Aim: According to the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Oman, 92.1% of women initiate exclusive breastfeeding at birth but this rate reduces sharply to 10.2% when the baby reaches six months of age (MOH, 2016). This decline in breastfeeding suggests a need to explore the breastfeeding experience of Omani women. The aim of this study was to explore women’s experiences of exclusive breastfeeding in Oman. Methodology and Methods: An exploratory qualitative design, informed by constructivist grounded theory principles. This study included 11 postnatal women, 5 family members of the same women participants and 7 healthcare professionals. Initially, five women were recruited through purposive sampling and participated in semi-structured interviews. In total, 69 semi-structured interviews and 15 observations were used for all participants in this study. Theoretical sampling was applied when categories appeared during the analysis of the data. A constructivist grounded theory analytical structure of initial, focused and theoretical coding was undertaken to analyse the data gathered. Findings and Discussion: The core category, ‘Navigating the Reality of Breastfeeding’ developed from the three main categories; namely, breastfeeding expectations, breastfeeding support and breastfeeding journey. The core category reflects the concept of women undertaking the process of breastfeeding with uncertainty because they did not know how to deal with breastfeeding difficulties. The women in the study did not know what to expect when breastfeeding. Navigating the unknowns with uncertainty feeling made the women’s experience with breastfeeding difficult. Women recognised that they had unrealistic expectations, lacked the practical components of breastfeeding, did not have theoretical knowledge of breastfeeding challenges and their management and very little support. These unknowns regarding the reality of breastfeeding made the women feel confused, upset, frustrated, disappointed and stressed, which led them to stop breastfeeding. However, three women were able to breastfeed. The core category was central to the emergent theory: ‘Resilience: The Power to Breastfeed’. The Theory suggests that women’s ability to breastfeed depended on their resilience. The three women continued breastfeeding by using adaptive and problem-solving strategies, gaining knowledge quickly, and learning from their difficulties and experiences. The three women continued breastfeeding until the end of the data collection period (which lasted four months). Conclusion: The findings of this study demonstrated that women’s ability to breastfeed depends on their resilience in adapting to breastfeeding difficulties. This study aids understanding of the social processes involved in exclusive breastfeeding. The findings could help in informing plans or programmes for improving the breastfeeding rate in Oman.
Date of Award31 Dec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorTina Lavender (Supervisor), Carol Bedwell (Supervisor) & Rebecca Smyth (Supervisor)


  • exclusive
  • breastfeeding
  • women

Cite this