Letting off steam! Video diaries to share breastfeeding experiences

Authors: Taylor, A.M., vanTeijlingen, E., Alexander, J. and Ryan, K.

Conference: The International Confederation of Midwives 30th Triennial Congress

Dates: 1-5 June 2014


Despite current recommendations to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months, many women in the UK do not succeed beyond the early weeks (McAndrew et al. 2012). Home video diaries have for the first time enabled women to expose their ‘realities’ of breastfeeding. Aim To explore women’s daily experiences of breastfeeding in the early weeks .

Method To understand the multi-faceted nature of breastfeeding, including women’s daily trials and tribulations, the researcher needed to be present. Since this is impossible, five breastfeeding women were asked, in 2011/12, to keep a daily video diary until they perceived their chosen infant feeding method was established. A purposive sampling method was used to ensure that women who were breastfeeding their first full term healthy baby were recruited. The analysis approach was based on that previously used for video data (Haw & Hadfield 2011, Svensson et al. 2005). An NHS Research Ethics Committee approved the study.

Findings Mothers used the camera as a confidante to share anxieties, vent feelings and frustrations and to record their experiences as they occurred. This research identified themes which were significant to the mother, capturing the complexities and culture of breastfeeding in the UK. It gives insights into how women persevere, often alone, to achieve their goal. Findings will be illustrated with video extracts.

Implications for Practice, This qualitative study bridges the gap between what midwives’ perceive as the cultural context of breastfeeding and the complexities that really exist, providing an enhanced understanding of how they can support women better in the vital early weeks. It enables service providers to develop policy with women’s lived breastfeeding experiences at its core.

Supported by Bournemouth University and the Iolanthe Midwifery Trust.

Source: Manual

Preferred by: Alison Taylor