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Geographies of infant feeding and access to primary health-care

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Although the benefits of breastfeeding to mother and infant are now well established, within Britain initiation rates are low and have changed little since 1980. This is despite many health promotion initiatives aiming to increase breastfeeding. In this paper we discuss some of the findings of an exploratory qualitative research study of infant feeding decisions in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, where health professionals are actively seeking to increase local breastfeeding initiation and duration rates. Our findings suggest that for health promotion initiatives to be effective across all social groups, there needs to be (i) a socio-cultural understanding of different social groups’ access to and interpretation of pre- and postnatal formal breastfeeding support health services, and (ii) more appreciation of how mothers’ informal support networks impact on their access to, interpretation and use of formal breastfeeding support.

Keywords: accessibility; formal support; in-depth interviews; infant feeding; informal networks

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2001


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