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The University of Southampton

Virtual workshop addresses ‘Breastfeeding Dilemma’

Published: 29 July 2016
Breastfeeding workshop
'The Breastfeeding Dilemma' Credit: Øyvind Holmstad

How do we support and encourage breastfeeding, without subjecting those who are unable, or choose not to, breastfeed to shame and guilt?

To help address this ‘Breastfeeding Dilemma’ the University of Southampton is hosting two special virtual workshops on Tuesday 2 August. The free workshops are timed to coincide with World Breastfeeding Week.

The aim is to bring together academics, policy makers, medical professionals, parental support organisations, members of the media, mothers and members of the public to address the Breastfeeding Dilemma.

They will explore the philosophical mistakes in the way we talk and think about infant feeding choices and the impact pressure to breastfeed can have on maternal health and the experience of new motherhood.

Dr Fiona Woollard
Dr Fiona Woollard

Dr Fiona Woollard, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southampton who is leading the workshops, said: “The Breastfeeding Dilemma arises because of two facts. There is growing recognition of the benefits of breastfeeding, leading to an influential support movement. This is good. However, many mothers now report an overbearing pressure to breastfeed. If they decide not to breastfeed, they feel required to repeatedly justify this decision – to medical professionals, friends, relatives and even strangers. Many women who attempt to breastfeed and are unable to do so report encountering similar judgement while struggling with their own guilt. Occurring when women are highly vulnerable, this can have devastating effects.

“On the other hand, many women who want to breastfeed are let down by lack of skilled help, information and social support. Eight out of 10 women who stop in the first six weeks would have liked to continue for longer.”

The virtual workshops will be held at 10am and 4pm GMT. To take part, go to the webpage at can also register in advance at

Dr Woollard added: “The first Breastfeeding Dilemma Workshop was held in London in March earlier this year and there were many people who wanted to attend but were unable to do so. So by popular demand, we decided to put together a virtual workshop. If you can't make these times, you can participate at your leisure. Please feel free to browse through as much or as little as you like, before joining us on the discussion blog.”

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