Fewer Korean women are choosing the 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding that are recommended for obtaining its maximal benefits despite an increasing effort to promote breastfeeding. Successful breastfeeding education and counseling need to be segmentally designed on the basis of client characteristics. This study explored the perceptions of breastfeeding in pregnant and 6 month postpartum Korean women using the Q methodology, a useful research approach to examine personal perceptions, feelings, and values about a concept or phenomenon of interest and identify typologies of perspectives. The Q sample consisted of 38 statements representing the universe of viewpoints on breastfeeding. The P sample (N = 49) included women who shared their perceptions of breastfeeding and filled each grid with a statement in the Q sorting table. Data were analyzed using the PC-QUANL program. Varimax (orthogonal) rotation revealed four factors that explained 53.0% of variance: maternal privilege (Factor 1), option based on emotion (Factor 2), option if efficient (Factor 3), and option if I have sufficient problem-solving skills (Factor 4). Korean women have changed their attitudes toward breastfeeding, with all participants viewing breastfeeding as optional. Breastfeeding-promotion campaigns and education need to consider societal norms and changes in women's beliefs and perceptions.
Keywords: Korean women; Q methodology; breastfeeding; breastfeeding psychology; breastfeeding trends; public-health practices.