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The University of Southampton
PhilosophyPart of Humanities

Infant feeding: changing the conversation

Published: 14 November 2016Origin: Humanities
Woman breast feeding
Credit: Øyvind Holmstad.

Dr Fiona Woollard, Associate Professor in Philosophy, has written an article in NCT Perspective which explores attitudes towards breastfeeding and the pressures women feel.

Dr Woollard’s article is one of three in the journal which draw on ideas from philosophy, public health and psychology to explore how changes in the attitudes and behaviour of others, and the environment in which women find themselves, can help women feel better supported in making the decision that is right for them and their baby.

Whilst breastfeeding is a major public health issue, with estimates that improving rates could save the NHS millions, it is at the same time an intensely emotive subject with many mothers reporting guilt, shame and discomfort surrounding infant feeding decisions.

The articles, which are also authored by fellow academics Heather Trickey and Dr Dawn Leeming, are in response to a campaign launched by UNICEF Baby Friendly UK called ‘Change the Conversation’.

The NCT is the UK’s leading charity for parents and provides infant feeding support to thousands of new mothers each year.

Changing the conversation surrounding infant feeding is no easy matter. We identify and make suggestions about how we might address deep seated problems with the way we think and talk about decisions on how babies are fed.

“UNICEF argue we need to, ‘…stop laying the responsibility for this major public health issue in the laps of individual women and acknowledge the role that politics and society has to play at every level.’ It believes ‘…the goal is not to put pressure on women to breastfeed, but to remove the barriers that currently stop women who want to breastfeed from doing so.

Dr Fiona Woollard - Associate Professor in Philosophy
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