This qualitative study aimed to investigate the issues involved in establishing and maintaining exclusive breastfeeding from the women's perspective. It was conducted with 12 mothers of infants less than six months of age who were attended at a primary healthcare unit. Semistructured interviews were recorded, transcribed and subjected to content analysis, which revealed the following categories: nipple trauma; free demand; "weak breast milk"; breastfeeding women's psychological health; previous breastfeeding experience; breastfeeding and women's multiple roles; and influence of close people. Establishment of exclusive breastfeeding was associated with experiences and perceptions about breast milk sufficiency, thereby causing concern and insecurity. Close people, especially family members, influenced the establishment and maintenance of exclusive breastfeeding, as did women's work overload inside and outside home. Knowledge of issues that facilitate or hinder establishment and maintenance of breastfeeding is essential for guiding health professionals' actions.
Breastfeeding; Interpersonal relations; Social support; Qualitative research