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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: 06 July 2022

Changing cultures of night-time breastfeeding and sleep in the US

Changing cultures of night-time breastfeeding and sleep in the US

(p.115) Six Changing cultures of night-time breastfeeding and sleep in the US
Social Experiences of Breastfeeding

Cecilia Tomori

Policy Press

This chapter looks at the cultural assumptions that childbearing requires specialised medical knowledge in the United States, where expectant parents usually receive advice on all aspects of pregnancy, childbirth, and infant care from multiple medical experts. This guidance divides the care of mothers and infants under the supervision of separate medical experts, and further fragments various aspects of infant care, including feeding and sleep. The chapter uses historical and ethnographic research to explore the origins of these assumptions and their consequences for American parents who embark on breastfeeding. It suggests that severing the links between these evolutionarily and physiologically connected domains has had a significant detrimental impact on night-time infant care. Parents have been left without adequate community cultural knowledge about the interaction of breastfeeding and sleep, and assume that these processes are separate. As a result, they are frequently surprised by infants' night-time behaviour and have difficulties navigating night-time breastfeeding and sleep. These challenges constitute an important element of an already formidable set of barriers to breastfeeding in the United States, where structural support is extremely limited and breastfeeding remains a controversial practice.

Keywords:   night-time, infant care, specialised medical knowledge, community cultural knowledge, sleep, night-time breastfeeding, American parents, childbearing

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