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Beyond ‘choice’ … how might an ecological perspective change the terms of the infant feeding debate?

Trickey, Heather ORCID: 2016. Beyond ‘choice’ … how might an ecological perspective change the terms of the infant feeding debate? Presented at: The Breastfeeding Dilemma Workshop, London, 23 March 2016.

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Research on ‘breastfeeding’ strikes chords. A casual mention in conversation that I am studying infant feeding policy will elicit a feeding narrative: frequently personal, sometimes about the experience of a partner, sister, mother, grandmother or friend. This is wonderful, stimulating and engaging stuff; the immediacy feeds my own passion for understanding the different meanings that feeding a baby has for each of us and stimulates my thinking as to how to go about researching what ‘good policy’ would look like. Equally compelling is the inevitable under-current; a mutual checking out of positions. As a researcher, I find myself ‘accounting’ in a way that seems to mirror the ‘identity work’ that mothers themselves engage in when explaining their feeding decisions to each other. Bottom line: which ‘side’ am I on? And exactly how rabid am I? My current research views infant feeding policy in ecological perspective; that is, I am interested in whether, why and how multiple factors relating to the wider physical, legal, commercial, economic and social environments within which women reside are (or are not) integrated with infant feeding policy. This focus grew out of participative research for NCT which sought to reconcile the charity’s focus on ensuring that women were enabled to have positive experiences of feeding their babies with a focus on promoting the conditions for supporting and enabling breastfeeding. In this presentation I consider how a perspective that is explicitly mother-centred (rather than focused on the baby’s ‘health’) and which is ecologically-focused (rather than focused on providing messages for individual mothers) fits within the wider discourse on infant feeding, and how such a perspective might help us to depolarise the current debate.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer)
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2022 10:32

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