Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Candice Hargons

Second Advisor

Dr. Danelle Stevens-Watkins


Background: Partner support improves breastfeeding initiation and continuation among mothers. However, few studies have explored partner support for breastfeeding among Black women living in the southeastern U.S., who report the lowest rates nationally of breastfeeding compared to women of other racial groups. Ways to increase support of Black women’s breastfeeding may be best understood from an Afrocentric perspective.

Research Aim: This qualitative study aimed to explore perceptions of partner support among Black mothers to abductively develop a culturally relevant framework of partner support to improve their rates of breastfeeding. Our research question was, “What partner support behaviors do Black women who breastfed for at least six months perceive to be influential to their breastfeeding process?”

Methods: A multigenerational sample of fourteen Black women ages 23 to 71 from Kentucky who breastfed for at least 6 months were recruited by social media and word-of-mouth to participate in individual interviews. Professionally transcribed interviews were analyzed using Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic analysis.

Results: Guided by the Breastfeeding Coparenting Framework with an Afrocentric perspective, we identified four support themes, (a) doing research, (b) offering care, (c) verbalizing praise, (d) achieving teamwork, and three support barrier themes (e) withdrawing commitment, (f) politicking bodies, and (g) stripping agency, that Black women found to be influential to their breastfeeding experiences.

Conclusion: Black women who breastfed for at least 6 months attribute their breastfeeding success, largely in part, to support received from their partners. Findings from this study inform a culturally relevant framework of partner support that can be used to facilitate intervention efforts with Black mothers and their partners to increase breastfeeding rates.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

Funding was provided, in part, by the Center for Health Equity Transformation (CHET) at the University of Kentucky for 2020-2021.

Available for download on Monday, July 10, 2023