Shattered expectations: when mothers' confidence in breastfeeding is undermined--a metasynthesis

Scand J Caring Sci. 2008 Dec;22(4):653-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6712.2007.00572.x.


Objectives: Why do mothers give up breastfeeding, even though breastfeeding has great importance to them? This study examines what has affected mother's confidence in breastfeeding when she gives up breastfeeding.

Method: A metasynthesis of seven studies on mothers' experiences with breastfeeding was conducted using Noblit and Hare's methodological approach.

Results: The metasynthesis shows that confidence in breastfeeding is shaped by shattered expectations and is affected on an immediate level by mothers' expectations, the network and the breastfeeding experts and on a discourse level by the discourses: breastfeeding as nature, the female body as a machine and the note of caution. Foucault's concept of discourse is used to discuss how these discourses affect mothers' confidence in breastfeeding by giving the right to speak about breastfeeding to the breastfeeding experts, by isolating the mothers who do not breastfeed and by organizing knowledge about breastfeeding in a certain way.

Conclusions: The individual mother is responsible for the success of breastfeeding and the discourses are hiding that general perceptions of breastfeeding undermines the mothers' confidence in breastfeeding and leads to shattered expectations.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal Behavior
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Postnatal Care
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Support