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Western Australian women's experiences of breastfeeding support

Phoebe, Raychelle (2020) Western Australian women's experiences of breastfeeding support. Other thesis, Murdoch University.

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Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months is recommended for the significant maternal and infant health benefits it conveys across the lifespan. Australia boasts high breastfeeding initiation rates, however the duration of breastfeeding falls well short of national and global targets. A deeper understanding of mothers’ interactions with breastfeeding supports could assist to further inform how the service of support is currently being received and the meaning it has for individual mother’s breastfeeding success.

Narrative Inquiry examined the stories of seven Western Australian women’s lived experiences of support whilst establishing breastfeeding. Data included stories from semi-structured indepth narrative-based interviews, retold narratives and background related to demographic details, family breastfeeding history and pregnancy, birth and general health information. Clandinin and Connelly’s (2000) three-dimensional space structure of temporality, sociality and situation was used to enable an understanding of the relational aspects and the changeable nature of mothers’ breastfeeding support experiences.
Thematic data analysis revealed four major themes: Trusting in the ‘natural’, navigating the complexity of the breastfeeding journey, battling others’ assumptions, and finding strength in supportive environments. All mothers found strength in the supportive interactions they experienced from professional, peer and family support, particularly from those whose guidance and assistance reflected the mother’s own personal beliefs about how important breastfeeding was to them. However, many barriers were also encountered, indicating there are still deficits in the support offered to breastfeeding mothers that need addressing.

The support experienced could have been improved by more positive societal attitudes and a more knowledgeable, non-judgemental health system that delivered anticipatory, rather than reactive support responses, and recognised individuality, and the importance of self-efficacy and the role of family support in overcoming breastfeeding difficulties.

Item Type: Thesis (Other)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Nursing
United Nations SDGs: Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being
Notes: Research Masters with Training
Supervisor(s): Fetherston, Catherine and Nilson, Caroline
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