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BMJ. 1999 Jan 2;318(7175):30-4.

Qualitative study of decisions about infant feeding among women in east end of London.

Author information

  • 1Macduff Medical Practice, Macduff, Banffshire AB44 1PR. loddinott@dail.pipex.com

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To improve understanding of how first time mothers who belong to a socioeconomic group with particularly low rates of breast feeding decide whether or not to initiate breast feeding.

DESIGN:

Qualitative semistructured interviews early in pregnancy and 6-10 weeks after birth.

SETTING:

Women's homes in east end of London.

SUBJECTS:

21 white, low income women expecting their first baby were interviewed mostly at home, often with their partner or a relative. Two focus groups were conducted.

RESULTS:

Women who had regularly seen a relative or friend successfully breast feed and described this experience positively were more confident about and committed to breast feeding. They were also more likely to succeed. Exposure to breast feeding, however, could be either a positive or a negative influence on the decision to breast feed, depending on the context. Women who had seen breast feeding only by a stranger often described this as a negative influence, particularly if other people were present. All women knew that breast feeding has health benefits. Ownership of this knowledge, however, varied according to the woman's experience of seeing breast feeding.

CONCLUSIONS:

The decision to initiate breast feeding is influenced more by embodied knowledge gained from seeing breast feeding than by theoretical knowledge about its benefits. Breast feeding involves performing a practical skill, often with others present. The knowledge, confidence, and commitment necessary to breast feed may be more effectively gained through antenatal apprenticeship to a breastfeeding mother than from advice given in consultations or from books.

PMID:
9872883
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC27674
Free PMC Article
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