Objective: To explore women's experiences and perceptions of baby feeding and to explore the explanations offered by women who choose to either breast or bottle feed.
Design: A qualitative study, which was prospective in design. Participants were interviewed three times: the first stage was between six and 14 weeks of pregnancy; the second stage was between 34 and 39 weeks; and the third stage was between six and 14 weeks after childbirth.
Participants: 19 participants were recruited to the study group via 12 antenatal clinics in Coventry, UK.
Findings and discussion: The data indicate that participants make baby-feeding decisions either prior to conception or early in the pregnancy. Findings also indicate that both breast and bottle feeders possessed knowledge of the benefits of breast feeding, but this did not seem to influence decision making. One of the most significant factors influencing the decision to bottle feed appears to be a desire for paternal involvement.
Conclusions and implications for practice: To increase the incidence of breast feeding, health-care professionals should consider the need for preconceptual health promotion. The role of paternal involvement in baby-feeding decisions also needs to be acknowledged and men need to be included in breast-feeding promotion campaigns.