Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Marshall, Hannah

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Sociology


Breast feeding


This study is concerned with understanding two differing conceptions of breast feeding and the indications of these divergent conceptions on interaction with significant others. I was interested in exploring how mothers who were members of a voluntary association that encourages breast feeding and how obstetrics nurses viewed breast feeding and its management. I was also interested in each group's perception of the other and their evaluation of interaction with one another. The primary methodological technique used in the study was the depth interview. This was supplemented by observation on a maternity ward and attendance at meetings of the above mentioned voluntary organization. My approach was inductive and was influenced by a symbolic interactionist theoretical background as represented in the work of George Herbert Mead, Herbert Blumer, and Howard S. Becker. Guided by symbolic interactionist theory, I attempted, through my interviews, to learn about breast feeding and its management from the viewpoints of the mothers and the nurses. My final analysis focused on several differing perspectives concerning breast feeding held by mothers and nurses and the implications of these perspectives for interaction between the two groups. These perspectives included divergent beliefs about breast feeding soon after delivery, rooming the baby in the same room with the mother while in the hospital, demand feeding schedules, weaning, and breast feeding in public places. On a more general level, the mothers emphasized the positive influence of breast feeding on the overall relationship of the mother and the infant. The nurses stressed nutritional and practical advantages of breast feeding. These generally different conceptions of breast feeding influenced each group's specific perspectives and were a source of conflict in the hospital setting.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [77]-78)


78 pages




Northern Illinois University

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