Thesis Portfolio for the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology

Hawkin, Lucinda (2018) Thesis Portfolio for the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


Background: Breastfeeding rates continue to remain low in the UK even though a number of initiatives have been delivered in an attempt to increase them. Evidence suggests a large proportion of mothers now perceive breastfeeding as the best feeding practice for their baby and many wish to do so, but are unable to for a number of reasons including issues around breastfeeding in public. This study set out to explore lived experience of breastfeeding in public to better inform our understanding.

Methods: A qualitative approach was chosen using semi-structured interviews to facilitative an in-depth exploration of mothers’ experiences of public breastfeeding. Women aged 31 to 40 years old who had experience of breastfeeding in public within London were interviewed and narratives analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.

Results: Two themes emerged from the data: “Societal attitudes as ostracising” and “Becoming a nursing mother”. It was evident these mothers experienced a strong transference from a British society generally disapproving and feeling uncomfortable with breastfeeding. Consequently implicit expectations are placed on them to conceal the behaviour either by covering their breast or breastfeeding in discrete locations including feeding rooms. Transitioning from a woman to a mother is a significant life stage and being able to breastfeed successfully appeared to be an important aspect of motherhood for these mothers. Their determination to breastfeed exceeded the challenges they faced in public with their confidence enhancing with time.

Findings are considered in light of current social attitudes and the importance of normalising views about breastfeeding in society in order to improve health outcomes.

HawkinLucinda_ThesisPortfolio.pdf - Published Version

Download (8MB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

Downloads each year

View Item View Item