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Title: Exploring the lived experiences of first-time breastfeeding women : a phenomenological study in Ghana
Author: Afoakwah, Georgina
ISNI:       0000 0004 5993 8941
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2016
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Background: Breastfeeding is globally recognised as a gold standard of nutrition, recommended for the first six months of an infant’s life. Despite its benefits, most women in Ghana do not breastfeed, as recommended by World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF). Aim: To gain in-depth understanding of first-time Ghanaian mother lived experience of breastfeeding. Design/Method: A longitudinal qualitative design was adopted, underpinned by the hermeneutic phenomenological approach, as described by van Manen (1990). The study explored the lived experiences of thirty first-time women recruited from antenatal clinic. A series of three semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted; the first in late pregnancy, the second in the first week following childbirth and the final one between four and six months postpartum. Findings: Inductive thematic analysis informed by van Manen (1990) and principles of hermeneutic interpretation allowed the emergence of four main themes: the ‘Breastfeeding Assumption,' Breastfeeding as Women’s Business,’ the Postnatal Experience of Breastfeeding and ‘Family as Enabler or Disabler’. Within the context of this study, breastfeeding is expressed as an activity within the family and social environment. The overall phenomenon that emerged was ‘Social Conformity’. This demonstrates an understanding of the breastfeeding experience suffused with emotions as women project an image of themselves as successful breast feeders in order to conform to family and social expectations. Conclusion: Findings from the study demonstrated the multifactorial dimensions of breastfeeding. Most importantly, it was identified that first-time breastfeeding women use emotion work to cope with their experience of breastfeeding, within the social context. It was suggested that midwives play a pivotal role in helping women develop realistic expectations prior to breastfeeding. Furthermore encouraging family centered education that promotes holistic support for women. The findings therefore suggested the need for better antenatal education based on evidence-based practice. Breastfeeding women require individualised support that assesses their emotional needs and offers encouragement. Developing policies that ensure training of midwives and breastfeeding advocates was recommended. Future research could explore the impact of these interventions on breastfeeding practices, helping first time women to breastfeed effectively.
Supervisor: Lavender, Tina ; Smyth, Rebecca Sponsor: Garden City University College, Ghana
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Breastfeeding ; Phenomenology ; Hermeneutics ; Emotion Work ; Lived Experience ; Heidegger ; van Manen ; Hermeneutic Circle ; Primiparous