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Health Place. 2013 Nov;24:250-9. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2013.08.011. Epub 2013 Sep 18.

Power to negotiate spatial barriers to breastfeeding in a western context: when motherhood meets poverty.

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Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Canada; Culture and Mental Health Research Unit, Jewish General Hospital, Montreal, Canada. Electronic address:


Although breastfeeding is beneficial to the health of babies born into poverty, rates have remained consistently low among this group. This paper presents findings from a study conducted with poor French Canadian women, who were exposed to breastfeeding promotion. Analysis of 31 qualitative interviews suggests that the 'good mother' imperative in context of poverty and the western hypersexualization of breasts acted as major deterrents to breastfeeding. Poor mothers, lacked access to the power required to negotiate these barriers in their social space. Public health should prioritize the transformation of social and public spaces when promoting breastfeeding to poor mothers.


Breastfeeding; Empowerment; Poverty; Social space; Support

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