alexa Managing breastfeeding and work: a Foucauldian secondary analysis
Social & Political Sciences

Social & Political Sciences

Arts and Social Sciences Journal

Author(s): Payne D

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Aim. This paper is a report of a secondary analysis of the experiences of employed breastfeeding mothers. Background. Health promotion policies exhort mothers to feed their infants breastmilk exclusively for the first 6 months and partially until the age of 2 years. More mothers are returning to paid employment less than a year after having a baby. Combining breastfeeding and paid work is an issue for nursing and midwifery as predominantly female professions caring for women and their children. Method. Foucauldian discourse analysis was used for a secondary analysis of interviews performed in 2005 with 20 women who continued to breastfeed on their return to work. The discursive positions and disciplinary practices were identified and analysed. Findings. Combining breastfeeding and paid work required negotiating the positions of good mother and good worker. Being a good mother conferred health benefits on infants. Being a good worker required the mothers to constrain their breastfeeding practices. The practices performed by the mothers involved stockpiling breastmilk, maintaining milk supply, preparing the baby ready for absence, making sacrifices and remaining silent and invisible as a breastfeeding worker. Conclusion. Breastfeeding workers have the potential to threaten the focus of the workplace. They discipline themselves to minimize their disruptive potential. Such strategies serve to maintain the marginalization of breastfeeding in the workplace and to keep women’s efforts to continue breastfeeding invisible. The work of breastfeeding workers needs to be better recognized and supported.

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This article was published in Journal of Advanced Nursing and referenced in Arts and Social Sciences Journal

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