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Title: What are mothers' and healthcare professionals' experiences of infant feeding within the current policy context and culture of healthcare in England?
Author: Smith, Jennifer
Awarding Body: University of Hull
Current Institution: University of Hull
Date of Award: 2014
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Background: Increasing breastfeeding rates is a longstanding goal of health policy in England. Rationale for this is premised upon the health benefits to both mother and child conferred by exclusive breastfeeding. Current UK Infant Feeding Policy (IFP) derives from international guidelines incorporating the Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) that promote exclusive breastfeeding. Such ‘evidence informed policy formation’ is emblematic of the current context of health policymaking. However, the impact of current IFP upon women and healthcare professionals is under researched. Aim: This study explores the impact of IFP upon Women, Midwives and Heads of Midwifery services in England and considers the implications for maternity services. Methodology: A qualitative design used semi-structured interviews to determine the experiences and views of IFP with eight Heads of Midwifery and eight Midwives. Six women underwent three interviews exploring their infant feeding journeys at: 8 months pregnant, 1 month and 6 months’ post-partum. Data were analysed using Colaizzi’s phenomenological method. Findings: Three key themes arose contributing towards understanding the context of IFP: Being with IFP, Discourses of Self-Determination and The Emotion work of Compliance. For Midwives: The socio-political context of health and health-care system policy is multifarious but contains identifiable spheres relating to current IFP. Midwives do not appear to actively engage in the political process of this type of policy generation. For Mothers: Infant feeding remains emotionally fraught territory. Three key themes arose from the first interview: Adopting a Stance, Formulating a Vision and Processing the Dialogues of Infant Feeding. The second interview engendered three more key themes termed: Being with the Reality of Infant Feeding, Regaining Selfhood and Seeking Companions. Discussion and Conclusion: Foucault’s analyses of power and governmentality were used to explore the ‘Art of Midwifery’ vs the ‘Art of Governance’. Lack of holism and neoliberal agendas dominating current IFP may be detrimental to maternity service provision as they compromise decisional autonomy for women and clinical autonomy for midwives.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Health technology