Introduction: The benefits of breastfeeding for both mothers and infants are
widely recognised. Breastfeeding confirms a woman’s unique ability to care for her
infant in the best way possible and promotes optimum infant and maternal health.
Methods: A qualitative research method involving five focus group discussions
(n=33) was chosen in this study to compare and contrast the breastfeeding practice
in two different locations: the communities of Pos Pulat and the regroupment
scheme settlement at Rancangan Pengumpulan Semula (RPS) Kuala Betis in
Kelantan, Malaysia which represents different lifestyle experiences of indigenous
Temiar population. Results: The benefits of breastfeeding to the infants reported
by some Temiar women (42.4%) were for the infant’s health and growth. Responses
from urban RPS Kuala Betis women include breast milk contains antibodies (3.0%),
delays in the return of regular ovulation (6.1%), thus lengthening birth intervals
and bonding between maternal-baby (6.1%). In general, respondents from Pos
Pulat seemed to have little knowledge regarding this issue, except for a woman who
mentioned that maternal milk contains vitamins. Based on the narrative analysis,
knowledge gap was observed between these two communities. Conclusion: Although
all the women interviewed had the experience of breastfeeding their infants, most
of them lacked the knowledge regarding the benefits of the breastfeeding either
to the infants or to the mothers. The findings from this study are crucial for the
preservation of breastfeeding culture among the Temiar women and can be used to
improve promotion of breastfeeding to other Orang Asli groups in Malaysia.
Introduction: The Temiar who ethnically belong to Senoi, one of the major groups of Orang Asli (indigenous people) in Peninsular Malaysia, have their own distinctive food taboos and avoidances during the postpartum period. These traditions are deeply rooted in their culture, customs, values and beliefs system.
Methods: A qualitative research method involving five focus group discussions were conducted to compare and contrast four different locations: the communities of Pos Tohoi, Pos Simpor, Rancangan Pengumpulan Semula Orang Asli (RPSOA) in Kelantan and the community at Batu 12 in Gombak, Selangor, representing different lifestyle experiences and food practices of Orang Asli Temiar in Peninsular Malaysia. All the transcripts were coded and categorised and then ‘thematised’ using the software package for handling qualitative data, NVivo 8.
Results: Despite variations in locations, there were five agreed prohibited food items during the postpartum period: cooking oil, salt, monosodium glutamate, sugar, and meat from game or domesticated animals. Dietary restrictions begin immediately after childbirth and varied from seven, eight, and fourteen days to one month. Besides food restrictions, there were other prescribed avoidances for mothers after delivering a baby.
Conclusion: Prohibitions placed upon women during the postpartum period are intended to protect the new mother, the newborn baby and also the community. It appears that regardless of whether they live in the most traditional or the least traditional locations, the Temiar lineage and societal norms in the form of taboos during the female reproductive cycle are handed down to the new generation by their elders.