• ‘It’s quite a taboo subject’: an investigation of mother’s experiences of breastfeeding beyond infancy and the challenges they face

      Jackson, Jessica; Hallam, Jenny; University of Derby (Taylor and Francis, 2021-06-10)
      Current recommendations state that women should breastfeed their child up to 2 years and beyond. However, the UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world. This could in part be explained by the stigma mothers face when breastfeeding an older child. This research aims to provide a detailed understanding of what motivates women to continue breastfeeding beyond infancy and the barriers they face to (i) add to existing research literature which has examined this area and (ii) support and normalize this practice. Semi-structured interviews were conducted between April and June 2018 with 24 women who had breastfed at least one child past 12 months. A theory-driven thematic analysis identified themes that ran through the interviews centering on the benefits of continued breastfeeding, the stigma mothers faced when breastfeeding past infancy and the challenges of returning to work. The women felt that continued breastfeeding enabled them to play a central role in their child’s health and develop an attachment led parental style but faced social and cultural stigma due to a lack of public awareness of current breastfeeding recommendations. Interventions which raise awareness of breastfeeding beyond infancy are needed to normalize this practice in the UK.