Attitudes and Expectations in the Intergenerational Transmission of Breastfeeding: A Phenomenological Study

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Abstract

Background:

The socially constructed meanings of breastfeeding that have been passed from generation to generation by grandmothers produce continuities and discontinuities in the practices of breastfeeding.

Research aim:

The aim of this study is to explore the objectives and positioning of women today with respect to their role as future grandmothers, based on their experiences with breastfeeding. That is, what role do future grandmothers wish to have in the lives of their breastfeeding daughters and grandchildren?

Methods:

A qualitative study with interpretative phenomenological analysis was conducted based on the philosophy of Martin Heidegger, using a sample of unstructured interviews from 20 women in Madrid. The data were analyzed using the steps of interpretative phenomenological analysis.

Results:

Among the women who desired to have a supportive role for their future breastfeeding daughters and daughters-in-law, three emergent themes were identified that aimed at being supportive but remaining flexible and respecting their autonomy: “I’ll give you what I didn’t have,” “the well-being of my daughter/daughter-in-law,” and “seeking professional help.” Two additional themes were identified that show the desire of these women to be present during this stage of family development and the lifecycle: “my role in the family” and “continuing to share.”

Conclusion:

Future grandmothers desire to be involved in their daughters and daughters-in-law breastfeeding experience through flexibility and support and with the use of specialized and personalized professional help. In addition, future grandmothers desire to be valued and included in the vital process of breastfeeding.

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