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Breastfeed Rev. 2009 Mar;17(1):9-18.

Mothers' experiences of sharig breastfeeding or breastmilk co-feeding in Australia 1978-2008.

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School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics, University of Queensland.


While the concept of breastfeeding in contemporary Western culture is of a mother breastfeeding her own baby or babies, others have replaced the mother as provider of breastmilk, for a variety of reasons, through most periods of human existence. Existing policies for the sharing of this bodily fluid, milk, appear to have been written without the benefit of a detailed examination of the actual experiences of the mothers and babies involved. This study attempts to fill this information gap by investigating the sharing of breastfeeding or expressed breastmilk by Australian women in a recent thirty-year period, 1978-2008. The objective of this study was to explore the mothers' experiences of sharing breastfeeding or human milk including: the circumstances in which this bodily fluid was freely shared; what screening process, if any, was used before the milk of another mother was accepted; the mothers' feelings about the experience; the reported attitudes of others; and the children's behaviour when put to the breast of someone other than the mother. The underpinning reason for the sharing of breastfeeding or breastmilk was the desire of mothers to provide human milk to their babies, exclusively, including while they were absent or temporarily unable to breastfeed. Most mothers were selective about those with whom they would share breastfeeding or breastmilk.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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