Adolescent girls’ perceptions of breastfeeding in two low-income periurban communities in South Africa
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In South Africa, exclusive breastfeeding rates are low, and rates of teenage pregnancy are high. Educational policy enables mothers’ return to school, which conflicts with policy emphasizing exclusive breastfeeding. We elicited adolescent women’s perceptions and experiences of infant feeding choices, and conducted six focus groups (N ¼ 57) in two periurban settlements. Participants knew arguments in favor of and against breast and formula-feeding, but in practice, mixed feeding occurred early after birth. While completion of high school was emphasized, exclusive breastfeeding was viewed as impractical. Congruent education policies and infant feeding policies/guidelines must address the constraints and contexts of adolescent mothers.