Nur Amanina M. JASNI1,2, Nik Ani Afiqah TUAH1,3, Khadizah H. ABDUL-MUMIN1,4.


1Pengiran Anak Puteri Rashidah Sa’adatul Bolkiah Institute of Health Sciences, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Gadong BE1410, Brunei Darussalam.

2School of Medicine, University College Cork, Cork T12 AK54, Ireland.

3Department of Primary Care and Public Health, Imperial College London, London SW7 2BU, United Kingdom.

4School of Nursing and Midwifery, La Trobe University, Bundoora, VIC 3086, Australia.



Introduction: Current studies have established that there are numerous facilitators and challenges of exclusive breastfeeding. There are limited studies that explore working mothers’ experiences on what empowers them to continue and sustain exclusive breastfeeding. Methods: A qualitative exploratory study was conducted by means of in-depth semi-structured focus group with 16 working mothers purposively selected from all four public universities in Brunei Darussalam. Data was analysed thematically. Results: Three themes emerged that influenced mothers’ empowerment to initiate and sustain exclusive breastfeeding: 1) self-determination; 2) psychosocial support system; and 3) the real world. Mothers’ determination to embrace breastfeeding is socio-culturally and religiously shaped, which is further strengthened by motherly instinct that primarily empowered mothers to exclusive breastfeeding. Psychosocial support system comprising husband, family, friends, support groups and social media are positively viewed as vital enhancer of mothers’ empowerment. Mismatch of mothers’ expectations and the actual experiences, non-breastfeeding friendly work environment and unsupportive co-workers hindered them from feeling fully empowered to exclusively breastfeeding. Conclusion: Holistic strategies should be implemented to continuously enhance and empower working mothers to achieve at least a minimum of six months exclusive breastfeeding once they return to work. This includes provision of dedicated private breastfeeding room and allocated time for pumping of breast milk. Working mothers also required support for their transition from breastfeeding the babies on their breast during the allocated extended maternity leave to different methods of giving expressed breast milk to their babies when they return to work.


Keywords: Brunei, Culture, Empowerment, Exclusive breastfeeding, Religion.


Corresponding Author: Dr. Khadizah H. ABDUL-MUMIN, MSc (UK), Ph.D (UK), PAPRSB Institute of Health Sciences, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Jalan Tungku Link, Gadong, Brunei-Muara, BE 1410, Brunei Darussalam

Email:   Phone: +673 2463001    Fax: +6732461081

Brunei Int Med J.2022;18:103-112