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Social Experiences of BreastfeedingBuilding Bridges between Research, Policy and Practice$
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Sally Dowling, David Pontin, and Kate Boyer

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781447338499

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447338499.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM POLICY PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.policypress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Policy Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PPSO for personal use.date: 27 May 2022

Breastfeeding’s emotional intensity: pride, shame and status

Breastfeeding’s emotional intensity: pride, shame and status

(p.39) Two Breastfeeding’s emotional intensity: pride, shame and status
Social Experiences of Breastfeeding

Lisa Smyth

Policy Press

This chapter looks at how underlying social processes of status inequality, anxiety, and shame shape infant feeding orientation. It examines this connection by looking at the ways in which status anxiety experienced through shame makes infant feeding an emotionally intense feature of early mothering. Infant feeding is often experienced as emotionally intense, not only because of practical concerns with how one's baby might be growing and thriving, but also because of the moralised approach to promotion strategies. When breastfeeding is established as the hallmark of good mothering, the feeling that one is failing can be very damaging, whether one is not breastfeeding at all, not breastfeeding appropriately, or not breastfeeding with sufficient dedication. It should be no surprise that advertising for infant formula explicitly reassures non-breastfeeding mothers that this approach to feeding also signals devotion to infant health, bonding, and taking pride in children's development. However, this chapter argues that the shaming effects of current breastfeeding advocacy also undermine attempts to normalise the practice, as avoiding potential shame can mean avoiding breastfeeding completely.

Keywords:   emotional intensity, shame, status inequality, anxiety, status anxiety, breastfeeding advocacy, good mothering, infant feeding, infant formula

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