An exploration of infant feeding experiences of women in Lincolnshire in the early postnatal period




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University of Nottingham



Peer reviewed


Executive Summary

Breastfeeding initiation and maintenance rates within Lincolnshire remain lower than the average for the East Midlands and England. Rates of initiation of breastfeeding at birth in 2010/2011 were 72% in Lincolnshire, compared to an initiation rate in England of 74%. The percentage of babies still being either partially or exclusively breastfed at 6 – 8 weeks dropped to 39% in Lincolnshire in comparison to 46% in England (NHS Lincolnshire, 2011).

The purpose of this qualitative research was to gain an understanding of primigravid women‟s breastfeeding experience in the first 6 – 8 week postpartum period. Whilst valuable audit data is held on infant feeding methods in Lincolnshire, this research focuses on offering insights into the experiences of new mothers in order to better understand their feeding experiences and decisions, with a view to understanding differences in rates. The objectives of the study were:

PRIMARY OBJECTIVE To describe women‟s experiences of breastfeeding SECONDARY OBJECTIVES To determine women‟s perceptions of breastfeeding To identify the factors that influence breastfeeding duration and cessation.

The study used phenomenological principles to understand the lived experiences of the women. The study focused on women who were living in the county of Lincolnshire. Ethical approval was granted by the University of Nottingham and the National Research Ethics Committee.

Two methods of data collection were used: Personal diaries 48 primigravid women over 34 weeks gestation were invited to complete detailed daily diaries of their infant feeding experiences in the 6 to 8 week postnatal period. 22 diaries were completed, a response rate of 46%.

In-depth interviews A sub-sample of 13 women participated in a face-to-face interview which explored their infant feeding experiences and factors that affected their decision to continue or to discontinue breastfeeding.

Data analysis utilised phenomenological principles that proceeded from coding to category development to themes.



Lincolnshire NHS, breastfeeding, breastfeeding experience, women's experiences, perceptions of breastfeeding, breastfeeding duration and cessation


Spencer, R., Hinsliff-Smith, K., Walsh, D. (2012) An exploration of infant feeding experiences of women in Lincolnshire in the early postnatal period. Nottingham: University of Nottingham.


Research Institute

Centre for Law, Justice and Society
Institute of Health, Health Policy and Social Care