Negotiating infant feeding in private and public spaces: a study of women’s experiences

Anderson, Carole Martin (2010) Negotiating infant feeding in private and public spaces: a study of women’s experiences. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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There is a wealth of literature suggesting that breastfeeding for 6 months offers the ideal balance of nutrients for complete infant growth, and that all infants should be: “exclusively breastfed from birth to six months of age” (WHO 2003). However, although 98 percent of new mothers are capable of breastfeeding, only a minority of infants continue to be breastfed at six months following birth. In addition, breastfeeding rates are socially patterned whereby women living in the most affluent neighbourhoods are three times more likely to breastfeed their infants than women living in the least affluent areas (Bolling et al 2007).
This thesis set out to address a range of research questions in relation to women’s lived experiences of breastfeeding in private and public spaces throughout the first 6 months of motherhood within a sample of mothers from the most and least affluent neighbourhoods. Given that breastfeeding is an embodied health behaviour, the epistemology adopted a position of interpretivism as a means of capturing the meaning and lived experiences of women’s breastfeeding. Breastfeeding women were recruited at 2 days following birth from the most and least affluent areas of Glasgow south and 41 in-depth interviews were conducted over 3 time periods following birth: 4 weeks (n18), 10 weeks (n12) and 26 weeks (n11).
The results from this public policy health service research study suggest that breastfeeding is a learnt skill and women work hard to develop their skills and confidence in order to breastfeed comfortably and discreetly in private and public spaces. Breastfeeding is commonly discussed as a private domestic activity, and home is generally considered the most appropriate place for breastfeeding to take place. However, with the constant flow of visitors a new baby attracts, the boundaries between what are considered private and public space breaks down. As a result, women develop an awareness of appropriate and inappropriate spaces for breastfeeding both at home and outside the home. Women suggest, at times, they feel a greater degree of privacy breastfeeding within public spaces than they do in the private space of their own home.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Public Health, Infant Feeding, Breastfeeding, Private and Public Spaces
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing
College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Supervisor's Name: Mackenzie, Dr. Mhairi F., Reid, Prof. Margaret E. and Shaw, Dr. Rebecca
Date of Award: 2010
Depositing User: Ms Carole Martin Anderson
Unique ID: glathesis:2010-2787
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Aug 2011
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2018 12:11

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