Understanding experiences of breastfeeding in the UK

Issue date: 03 March 2015

Most mothers in the UK report that they stopped breastfeeding sooner than they wanted to. Why is this the case? What are women's experiences of breastfeeding in the contemporary UK, and how are these experiences shaping decisions about how long to continue?

These are the questions behind a new seminar series being organised by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), Cardiff University and the University of South Wales.

The series is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and will take place in Bristol and Cardiff. Co-organiser Dr Sally Dowling from UWE's Nursing and Midwifery department says, “The seminars will bring together academics across a range of social science disciplines with those involved in breastfeeding education, practice and policy.

“The first one will take place at the Watershed in Bristol on March 11. Over the series of six seminars, during 2015 and 2016, a core group of attendees, plus one internationally renowned speaker each time, will meet to further understand women's actual experiences and day-to-day practices of breastfeeding. They will also consider how more UK women might be helped to continue to breastfeed for longer.

“They will look at factors such as our culture, the influence of the media, together with factors of embodiment, emotion, and whether she has returned to work, on how long mothers continue to breastfeed and what these experiences are like. Our goal is to create an opportunity for participants from academia, practice and policy, both governmental and non-governmental, to come together and share their knowledge.”

The last seminar in the series will feature a performance by UK spoken-word artist Hollie McNish, whose powerful piece on YouTube about breastfeeding in public has been viewed over a million times.

Academics, Early Career Research or PhD students working on breastfeeding issues are especially welcome to register for any of the seminars.

Further information on the seminar series is here.

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