A qualitative exploration of the Media’s Influence on UK Women’s views of Breastfeeding
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Background: In the UK rates of exclusive breastfeeding at 6 months are at 1%, highlighting the need to encourage and to improve the support provided to women to initiate and continue breastfeeding and to improve infant and maternal health. Aim: To qualitatively explore the influence of media on the intention to initiate and continue breastfeeding. Methods: This ethnographic study recruited forty women; 31 with children and nine of child-bearing age (19 to 28 years), with an intention to have children to take part in semi-structured interviews. Data was analysed using thematic analysis. Findings: The thematic analysis identified five themes associated with sociocultural influences on breastfeeding perceptions and behaviour: family influence; privacy; media as a double-edged sword; negative exposure to breastfeeding; and planned behaviour versus experience. Conclusions: Media influences strengthened pre-conceived notions of breastfeeding. Social media can play an important role in maintaining breastfeeding though support but can also put undue negative pressure on mothers who were struggling to breastfeed.
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