A serial qualitative interview study of infant feeding experiences: idealism meets realism

Article English OPEN
Hoddinott, Pat. ; Craig, Leone C A. ; Britten, Jane. ; McInnes, Rhona M. (2012)
  • Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group
  • Journal: BMJ Open (vol: 2)
  • Related identifiers: pmc: PMC3307036, doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000504
  • Subject: Breast feeding | 610 Medicine & health | 618 Gynecology, obstetrics, pediatrics & geriatrics | Research | 1612 | 1722 | RG Gynecology and obstetrics | Infant feeding | RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine | 1719 | 1729 | Qualitative research | 1506 | 1704 | 1725 | 1714

Article summary Article focus To investigate the perspectives of women and their wider family and social network on infant feeding from pregnancy until 6 months after birth. To ascertain what would make a difference to their experiences of breast feeding and the introduction of other fluids and solids. To focus on health inequalities and to understand interactions between women, professionals, organisations and systems to inform policy, practice and the design of complex intervention trials to improve infant feeding outcomes. Key messages Clashes between overt or covert idealism and realism within and between families and the health service occur at pivotal points particularly in the early weeks after birth and around the introduction of solids. At pivotal points, families often perceive the only solution within their control that will restore family well-being is to stop breast feeding or introduce solids or other fluids. Using a family-centred narrative approach could enable pivotal points to be anticipated and resolved. Translating global policy goals like exclusive breast feeding until 6 months into practice is unhelpful and achievable incremental goal setting is recommended. Strengths and limitations of this study Original interpretation using robust and transparent methods in a relatively large data set of serial interviews about infant feeding, with recruitment of women living in more disadvantaged areas. Findings which are relevant to current policy and practice, particularly the Unicef Baby Friendly initiative. An explicit aim to elicit the views of women and their significant others to inform future intervention studies, policy and practice. Our findings are hypothesis generating rather than hypothesis testing. It is uncertain how transferable our data is outside the UK context, particularly to countries where breast feeding prevalence is high. Although we targeted more disadvantaged areas for recruitment, our sample was more economically advantaged than we would have liked.
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