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Breastfeeding: An existential challenge—women's lived experiences of initiating breastfeeding within the context of early home discharge in Sweden

Author(s): Lina Palmér | Gunilla Carlsson | Margareta Mollberg | Maria Nyström

Journal: International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health & Well-Being
ISSN 1748-2623

Volume: 5;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: Breastfeeding | lived experience | caring science | phenomenology | reflective lifeworld research

For most Swedish women, breastfeeding is an essential part of the childbearing period. Yet, the meaning of breastfeeding from women's perspective is scantily explored. Therefore, the aim of this study is to describe women's lived experiences of initiating breastfeeding within the context of early home discharge. Eight women, two primiparous, and six multiparous were interviewed within 2 months after birth. A reflective lifeworld research design based on phenomenological philosophy was used during the data gathering and data analysis. The results show that the phenomenon, initiating breastfeeding, in spite of good conditions, i.e., early home discharge, is complex and entails an existential challenge. The essential meaning of the phenomenon is conceptualized as, “A movement from a bodily performance to an embodied relation with the infant and oneself as a mother.” This pattern is further described in its five constituents: “Fascination in the first encounter,” “Balancing the unknown,” “Devoting oneself and enduring the situation,” “Seeking confirmation in the unique,” and “Having the entire responsibility.” Caring for women initiating breastfeeding entails, from a caring science perspective, to help the mother meet insecurity and strengthen confidence to trust her ability to breastfeed the newborn infant. According to these findings, it is suggested in the discussion that it is time for health care professionals to reject the idea of breastfeeding merely as meals or eating for the infant. Instead, they ought to embrace its origin, namely as a way to closeness between mother and infant.
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