Why aren't you stopping now?!’ Exploring accounts of white women breastfeeding beyond six months in the East of England

Kristina Newman, Iain R. Williamson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Breastfeeding infants for a period of two years is endorsed by international health agencies such as the World Health Organisation. However, discourses of breastfeeding in a British context are complex and contradictory, juxtaposing representations of breastfeeding as healthy and a moral obligation for mothers with views of the act as unseemly and an expectation that nursing women practice ‘socially sensitive lactation’ especially in public spaces. Sustained breastfeeding rates in the UK are poor and most British women discontinue breastfeeding well before six months. Mothers who elect to feed their infants at the breast for longer than these normative periods appear to experience suspicion and disapproval, especially in a public context and breastfeeding women are only legally protected in feeding their infants in public for up to six months. Although breastfeeding research is flourishing, research on this particular population of mothers remains relatively limited. Therefore, in this study, we explore in-depth experiential accounts of eight women, resident in a town in the East of England, who breastfed their infants beyond six months. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis four themes are presented. Really horrible looks': stigma from families and the community’, ‘Feeling quite exposed’: managing extended breastfeeding etiquette’, ‘Weird freaky paedophiles’: representations of extended breastfeeding women in the media’ and ‘You really need that’: the importance of support for longer-term breastfeeding women’. Applications to extended breastfeeding promotion and advocacy are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-235
Early online date22 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018

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© 2018, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/


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