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Women's experiences of body image and baby feeding choices: Dealing with the pressure to be slender

Fern, VA and Buckley, E and Grogan, S (2014) Women's experiences of body image and baby feeding choices: Dealing with the pressure to be slender. British Journal of Midwifery, 22. ISSN 0969-4900 (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This qualitative study was designed to assess postpartum women's body image in relation to feeding choices. Forty women aged 20–42 years, up to 3 years postpartum were interviewed through email. Participants were allocated to three groups; currently breastfeeding, former breastfeeding, or bottle-feeding. Data were analysed using thematic analysis, which revealed three key themes: attitude transition, celebrity comparisons, and emotional reactions to celebrity mothers. Analysis suggested that women with experience of breastfeeding viewed their body more functionally, which created feelings of appreciation and acceptance towards their bodies. The findings suggest that although breastfeeding does not necessarily protect women from body concerns and pressure for thinness, it allows women to see their body as an ‘instrument’ rather than an aesthetic ‘object’. Further research is required to confirm or challenge the current findings.

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