The research, design and concept development of a new chair to meet the needs of breastfeeding women and their infants
Jones, Lynn Susanne
It has long been recognised that breastfeeding rates in the UK are substantially below an optimal level to promote the health of mothers and infants. While there are many variables which affect a mother's decision to breastfeed a significant factor in the discontinuation of breastfeeding is infant distress, maternal distress and maternal pain and discomfort brought about through poor positioning. Poor positioning is often the result of the wholly unsuitable type of furniture that mothers use to aid breastfeeding whether making use of furniture supplied in hospitals, GP waiting areas and clinics, or making use of the domestic furniture to be found in the family home. However, despite this it remains true that to date, despite a perceived need to design a breastfeeding chair, there has been no published research which has tested furniture designed to assist breastfeeding and there is no furniture currently in production which supports the needs of breastfeeding women. It has been the purpose of this thesis to specifically examine and address these observations and to explore the feasibility of a breastfeeding chair suited to the needs of breastfeeding women. In order to do this the thesis reviews furniture which has been improvised and appropriated for breastfeeding and through a series of case studies, analyses examples of breastfeeding posture in order to generate relevant and unique ergonomic data. Through further allied research, related cultural and medical issues are also identified and discussed in order that an appropriate design brief for a breastfeeding chair might be defined and its specification detailed. Finally, in order to explicate the design process, the thesis traces the development of the chair through prototyping and into its eventual commercial production. The thesis concludes with a critique of that process and recommendations for further research.
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