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How can we better support mothers don’t meet their breastfeeding goals?
Professor Amy Brown is based in the Department of Public Health, Policy and Social Sciences at Swansea University in the UK where she directs the new research centre ‘LIFT’ : Lactation, Infant Feeding and Translation. With a background in psychology, she first became interested in the increasingly global issue of low breastfeeding rates
when breastfeeding her first baby. Three babies and a PhD later she has spent the last fifteen years exploring psychological, cultural and societal barriers to breastfeeding, with an emphasis on understanding how we can shift our perception of breastfeeding from an individual mothering issue, to a wider public health problem.
Professor Brown has published over 100 papers exploring the barriers women face in feeding their baby during the first year. She is author of ‘Breastfeeding Uncovered’, ‘Why starting solids matters’, ‘The positive breastfeeding book’, ‘Informed is best’, ‘Why breastfeeding grief and trauma matter’, ‘A guide to support breastfeeding for the medical profession’ and the soon to be published ‘Let’s talk about the first year of parenting’.
Promoting breastfeeding as protective of both maternal and infant health is a central role or governments, health professionals and breastfeeding advocates. Talking about breastfeeding difficulties and why ingrained barriers must be tackled is essential to ensuring the situation changes for future mothers. However, sometimes it feels as if we are caught in a vicious circle; we must talk about breastfeeding as our rates are low and many women wish they had breastfed for longer, yet discussing these issues is often criticized as causing pain.
This talk will present findings from a large research study which explored the experiences of over 2000 women who could not breastfeed for as long as they wanted, presenting their lasting emotions from their experience alongside their ideas for how we could promote breastfeeding in ways that cause them the least pain. The concept of negative breastfeeding emotions displaying as psychological grief or trauma for a subgroup of women will be discussed, alongside the factors that they felt made their experience or feelings worse.