Mothers need to talk, midwives need to listen: Insights from breastfeeding mother's video diaries

Authors: Taylor, A., van Teijlingen, E., Ryan, K. and Alexander, J.

Conference: 31st ICM Congress

Dates: 18-22 June 2017


Place of Publication: The Hague, the Netherlands


Background: Exclusive breastfeeding reduces infant and maternal morbidity and mortality but breastfeeding rates in the UK remain some of the lowest in the world (Victora et al. 2016).

Purpose/Objective: To explore the everyday experiences of first-time breastfeeding mothers in the early weeks.

Method: In this qualitative study, a purposive sampling method was used to recruit five breastfeeding mothers who generated the data, creating and recording their own video diaries. Using tenets of ethnography, a multi-dimensional thematic analysis was developed to ensure that both the audio and visual elements of the data were analysed. NHS Research Ethics Committee approved the study.

Key Findings: Themes included mothers’ desire to record their real-time experiences providing audiovisual insights into the socio-cultural context and embodied nature of breastfeeding. Embodying the camcorder 24/7, mothers used it as a confidante to offload their feelings and experiences resulting in a cathartic release. This emphasised the daily turmoil and isolation they felt when trying to work through issues including feelings about inadequate support from healthcare workers. The camcorder became a tool facilitating deep personal reflection which triggered self-awareness, renewed determination and resilience to continue breastfeeding. The moving visual images provided a more complete picture of mothers’ experiences, and thus some illustrative video clips will be presented with the findings.

Discussion: Implications for practice: Midwives need to work in partnership with mothers to find innovative ways to relieve tension, work out strategies for coping and to find an outlet for emotions in order to enhance breastfeeding experiences and optimise outcomes. Midwifery education needs to focus on non-judgmental communication that focuses on active listening skills. Future research could include developing and evaluating a real-time internet breastfeeding support service.

Supported by Bournemouth University and the Iolanthe Midwifery Trust.

References: Victora, C. G., Bahl, R., Barros, A. J. D., França, G. V. A., Horton, S., Krasevec, J., Murch, S., Sankar, M. J., Walker, N., and Rollins, N. C., 2016. Breastfeeding in the 21st century: epidemiology, mechanisms, and lifelong effect. The Lancet [online], 387 (10017), 475–490.

Source: Manual