Infant feeding ideology, expectation and reality

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Description: Despite widespread promotion that ‘Breast is Best’, breastfeeding rates remain low, particularly in the UK. Public health messaging, by presenting breastfeeding as ‘natural’, ‘easy’ and ‘good,’ may be underpreparing women for the challenges of breastfeeding, as well as marginalising and stigmatising those who struggle to breastfeed or choose alternative methods of infant feeding. This messaging, we suggest, creates additional barriers to breastfeeding. However, we currently lack large scale, quantitative data able to untangle cause from effect; a reliance on retrospective methodologies has impeded understanding of how prior expectations interact with women’s real-time experiences that ultimately influence infant feeding decisions. We will address prior methodological limitations by developing and piloting an innovative mobile application (app), to collect daily data on women’s infant feeding experiences and decisions. The app will allow mothers to track their own feeding journeys, whilst facilitating exploration of breastfeeding narratives and feeding behaviour in unprecedented depth.

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