Hoddinott P, Craig LCA, Britten J & McInnes R (2012) A serial qualitative interview study of infant feeding experiences: Idealism meets realism. BMJ Open, 2 (2), p. e000504. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000504
Objective: To investigate the infant feeding experiences of women and their significant others from pregnancy until 6 months after birth to establish what would make a difference.
Design: Qualitative serial interview study.
Setting: Two health boards in Scotland.
Participants: 72 of 541 invited pregnant women volunteered. 220 interviews approximately every 4 weeks with 36 women, 26 partners, eight maternal mothers, one sister and two health professionals took place.
Results: The overarching theme was a clash between overt or covert infant feeding idealism and the reality experienced. This is manifest as pivotal points where families perceive that the only solution that will restore family well-being is to stop breast feeding or introduce solids. Immediate family well-being is the overriding goal rather than theoretical longer term health benefits. Feeding education is perceived as unrealistic, overly technical and rules based which can undermine women's confidence. Unanimously families would prefer the balance to shift away from antenatal theory towards more help immediately after birth and at 3-4 months when solids are being considered. Family-orientated interactive discussions are valued above breastfeeding-centred checklist style encounters.
Conclusions: Adopting idealistic global policy goals like exclusive breast feeding until 6 months as individual goals for women is unhelpful. More achievable incremental goals are recommended. Using a proactive family-centred narrative approach to feeding care might enable pivotal points to be anticipated and resolved. More attention to the diverse values, meanings and emotions around infant feeding within families could help to reconcile health ideals with reality.
; Medicine; Public health; Maternal and infant welfare; Anthropology
BMJ Open: Volume 2, Issue 2