Liquid gold from the milk bar: Constructions of breastmilk and breastfeeding women in the language and practices of midwives
AbstractMidwives are the main health professional group providing support and assistance to women during the early establishment of breastfeeding. In published accounts of early breastfeeding experiences women report high levels of dissatisfaction with health professional support. To gain an understanding of this dissatisfaction, we examined the way in which midwives represent breastmilk and construct breastfeeding women in their interactions. Seventy seven women and seventy six midwives at two maternity units in NSW, Australia, participated in this study. Eighty five interactions between a midwife and a breastfeeding woman were observed and audio recorded during the first week after birth. In addition, data were collected through observation of nine parenting education sessions, interviews with 23 women following discharge, and 11 managers and lactation consultants (collected between October 2008 and September 2009). Discourse analysis was used to analyse the transcribed interactions, and interview data. The analysis revealed that midwives prioritised both colostrum and mature breastmilk as a ‘precious resource’, essential for the health and wellbeing of the infant and mother. References to breastmilk as ‘liquid gold’ were both verbal and implied. Within this discourse, the production and acquisition of ‘liquid gold’ appeared to be privileged over the process of breastfeeding and women were, at times, positioned as incompetent operators of their bodily ‘equipment’, lacking knowledge and skill in breastfeeding. In this context breastfeeding became constructed as a manufacturing process for a demanding consumer. The approach taken by midwives revealed an intensive focus on nutrition to the exclusion of relational communication and support. The findings indicate the need to challenge the current ‘disciplinary’ and ‘technological’ practices used by midwives when providing breastfeeding support and the need for a cultural change in postnatal care.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.
Volume (Year): 75 (2012)
Issue (Month): 10 ()
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/315/description#description
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Marshall, Joyce L. & Godfrey, Mary & Renfrew, Mary J., 2007. "Being a 'good mother': Managing breastfeeding and merging identities," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(10), pages 2147-2159, November.
- Barclay, Lesley, 1985. "How is the midwife's training and practice defined in policies and regulations in Australia today?," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 111-132.
- Kelleher, Christa M., 2006. "The physical challenges of early breastfeeding," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(10), pages 2727-2738, November.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.