Breastfeeding a preterm infant and the objectification of breastmilk
Sweet, Linda Phyllis
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This paper presents the theme of objectification of breastmilk, which results from long-term breast expression by parents of hospitalised very low birth weight (VLBW) preterm infants. An interpretive phenomenological study, involving 17 Australian parents was undertaken to explore parents’ experiences of breastfeeding very low birth weight preterm infants from birth to twelve months of age. The discussion presented here is elicited from 45 individual interviews held with both mothers and fathers, which were then transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis. Objectification of breastmilk was one of the prevalent themes throughout all of the interviews. The effects of this objectification on the parents and their lactational experience will be discussed. Objectification of the breastfeeding experience, it will be shown, is incongruent with the parents’ expectations and has a negative impact on their breastfeeding experience.
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