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A photo-elicitation exploration of UK mothers' experiences of extended breastfeeding

Burton, A. E., Taylor, J., Owen, A. L. , Renshaw, J. E., Williams, L. R. ORCID: 0000-0003-2430-1142 & Dean, S. E. (2022). A photo-elicitation exploration of UK mothers' experiences of extended breastfeeding. Appetite, 169, article number 105814. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2021.105814


In this qualitative study we explored the experiences of women breastfeeding children over 12 months of age. Data were collected from 24 participants using semi-structured photo-elicitation interviews and photo-prompted online surveys. Participants took photographs of their extended breastfeeding experiences over one week and reflected on how the events depicted made them feel, and what they represented in terms of their experience. Data were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Four themes were developed; parenting through breastfeeding: meeting the needs of my child, my body is not my own, social influences on the breastfeeding experience, and thinking about stopping: my choice or theirs? Findings highlight that extended breastfeeding was experienced as beneficial for both mother and child, promoting closeness, and bonding, and providing a valued parenting tool. However, some mothers reported conflict between their desire for child-led extended breastfeeding and the need to regain autonomy and control of their own bodies. The dangers of negative societal responses to extended breastfeeding and risks to mental health posed by cultural constructions of 'ideal' motherhood are discussed.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2021. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: Breastfeeding; Interpretative phenomenological analysis; Motherhood; Photo-elicitation; Qualitative; Breast Feeding; Female; Humans; Mothers; Parenting; Qualitative Research; United Kingdom
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of REVISED 2 Extended breastfeeding.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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