The Experience of Infant Feeding for First-Time Mothers: A Hermeneutic Analysis
Miller, Carrie Westmoreland
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Infant feeding is a unique relationship between a mother and infant that is like no other human relationship in the lifespan. Research suggests women struggle with infant-feeding choices and decide how to feed infants prior to the birth. The phenomenon of infant feeding and maternal choice of feeding methods warrants further investigation and research. A clear understanding of what the experience means of being a first-time mother and preparing for, initiating, and sustaining infant feeding has not been fully addressed in the literature. The aim of this Heideggerian hermeneutic research project, to generate a comprehensive interpretation of first-time mothers' experiences regarding how they prepare for infant feeding before birth and initiate and sustain infant-feeding methods in the first six weeks of an infant's life, resulted in findings that have implications for healthcare professionals and mothers. Twelve first time mothers, recruited from the Northwest region of the United States, were interviewed three times each. Two patterns emerged from the analysis of transcribed interviews: Tending to life: Readying to feed and Coming into motherhood: Unfolding love, suffering and being. The interpretive patterns, along with underlying themes, are presented in relation to nursing practice, education, policy and research.