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When baby's chronic illness and disability interfere with breastfeeding: women's emotional adjustment

Ryan, K., Smith, L. and Alexander, J. (2013) When baby's chronic illness and disability interfere with breastfeeding: women's emotional adjustment. Midwifery, 29 (7). pp. 794-800. ISSN 1532-3099

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.midw.2012.07.011


Objectives to explore the emotional adjustments that women make when their baby's chronic illness or disability threatens breastfeeding. Methods qualitative descriptive study and exploratory secondary analysis of narratives from five breastfeeding women in the UK whose babies experienced a chronic condition. Findings three key themes were discerned: (1) ‘Overwhelmed’—feelings of shock and helplessness. Engagement in the practical issues of breastfeeding, relying on others and receiving emotional support from them helped. (2) ‘Under acknowledged’—women spoke of not being listened to or taken seriously. Focus on the medical condition de-valued the contribution of breastfeeding. (3) ‘Striving for normality’—reframing the situation and readjusting goals and expectations helped adjustment to a ‘normal’ life. Discussion varying levels of emotional adjustment were experienced by the women, and a process or path reflected their efforts to cope. Adjustments are discussed in terms of practical issues of coping and biographical disruption, thereby raising awareness of challenging aspects. Breastfeeding provided a sense of control and purpose. Understanding issues around breastfeeding an ill or disabled child can help health-care providers offer more appropriate care to women who wish to breast feed in spite of chronic illness.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy > School of Pharmacy > Pharmacy Practice Research Group
ID Code:70813

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