“They’re her boobs, it’s up to her, it’s not up to me”: Gendered dimensions of infant feeding decisions

Prosser, H 2011, “They’re her boobs, it’s up to her, it’s not up to me”: Gendered dimensions of infant feeding decisions , in: 17th Qualitative Health Research Conference, 25-27 October 2011, Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada.

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Increasing breastfeeding rates is an important public health issue and a key priority for tackling health inequalities, particularly for women in low socioeconomic status (SES) groups who are less likely to initiate and continue breastfeeding. Despite much attention on factors influencing mothers’ decision-making about breastfeeding, less attention has been directed to the role fathers’ play. Drawing on a wider qualitative study of factors influencing infant feeding choices in an area of low breastfeeding rates in the UK, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 24 fathers of babies who were formula or breastfed. This paper explores the role of fathers in decision-making around infant feeding, and highlights the gendered influences and attitudes on participation in decision-making. Fathers reported little active engagement in decision-making and findings highlight how feeding choices are often framed as mothers’ responsibility. Regard for women’s governance over their own bodies, together with notions of infant care-giving as primarily a female activity featured prominently in fathers’ rationalisations. However, while some fathers do conform to traditional gender norms, when analysed closely accounts suggest a more complex set of gender roles where some fathers are keen to become active participants in decision-making and breastfeeding support, but often lack the knowledge of how to do so. The net outcome is that the gendered nature of decision-making positions mothers as responsible for breastfeeding success, and without support, renders them vulnerable to early breastfeeding cessation. Interventions to promote and support breastfeeding should proactively encourage the inclusion of fathers.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Themes: Health and Wellbeing
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society > Centre for Applied Research in Health, Welfare and Policy
Refereed: Yes
Depositing User: H Prosser
Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2011 10:14
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 20:01
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/18976

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