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An interpretive phenomenological analysis of the experiences of mothers who continue to breastfeed despite facing difficulties

Hacking, M, Jackson, L, Fallon, V, Harrold, JA, Davie, P, Silverio, SA and Slade, P (2023) An interpretive phenomenological analysis of the experiences of mothers who continue to breastfeed despite facing difficulties. Women and Birth. ISSN 1871-5192

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Abstract

Background: Breastfeeding offers many health benefits to mother and infant. Problem: Breastfeeding difficulties are common and are linked with postnatal distress. Aim: To explore the lived experiences of breastfeeding continuation despite facing difficulties. Methods: Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight women who had experienced breastfeeding difficulties yet continued breastfeeding. Interviews were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Findings: The first superordinate theme, ‘Radical acceptance of the imperfect’ included sub-themes of: ‘Taking it day-by-day’, ‘Breastfeeding takes a community’, and, ‘Finding what works for you’. The second superordinate theme, ‘Determination and persistence’ included sub-themes of: ‘Adopting a headstrong attitude’ and ‘Transient challenges versus lifelong achievement’. Discussion: Participants found radical acceptance of breastfeeding as an imperfect, variable process which enabled them to sustain breastfeeding despite challenges. Participants proactively drew on social and personal resources to navigate guidance and to find solutions which worked for their individual circumstances. Finally, open-mindedness, optimism, self-compassion, and being headstrong and determined were all personal qualities which facilitated breastfeeding during exceptionally difficult moments on their breastfeeding journey. Conclusion: Recommendations are made for healthcare professionals: to provide emotional counselling during routine care (with an aim to instil breastfeeding self-efficacy) and to encourage breastfeeding advocacy among fathers and the maternal social support network (with an aim to further scaffold successful breastfeeding). Recommendations are also made for mothers: to develop and refine maternal confidence, patience, flexibility, self-compassion, and trust.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Breastfeeding difficulties; Continued breastfeeding; Emotional impact; Postnatal distress; Qualitative; 11 Medical and Health Sciences; Obstetrics & Reproductive Medicine
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Divisions: Psychology (from Sep 2019)
Publisher: Elsevier
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2024 14:23
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2024 14:30
DOI or ID number: 10.1016/j.wombi.2023.12.001
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/22222
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