Accepted paper:

Breast feeding versus formula feeding: which views do mothers refer to?

Authors:

Gervaise Debucquet (AUDENCIA-Nantes. School of Management)
Valérie Adt (Centre Edgar Morin (EHESS-CNRS, Paris) et LESMA (AUDENCIA, Nantes))

Paper short abstract:

As breastfeeding is increasing among french mothers, we analyse the way mothers who breastfeed combine psychological, sociological and moral arguments and, at the opposite, how mothers who bottle-feed justify their choice and manage their "guilt".

Paper long abstract:

This communication focuses on the influence of social, cultural and anthropological determinants on mothers' feeding related choice. On the basis of interviews with 40 French mothers (face-to-face and, for a certain number, through chat rooms and 4 months of follow-up), we analyze how medical view, further to the numerous changes and contradictions relating to recommendations on the feeding of newborn children, has recently been challenged by the naturalist view, encompassing mostly educated women. When talking about their choice, mothers who breast-feed frequently emphasize the importance of maternal milk on food education (taste widening, food intake regulation and prevention of obesity) and child autonomy acquisition, above nutritional considerations. Conversely, mothers who choose exclusively to bottle-feed have less confidence in their body and their child's ability to "know" what they need. They thus rely on science to provide well-balanced milk. The analysis suggests the existence of two conceptions of the body: one symbiotic and one performative.

This research has been conducted within the context of a French research program (NUPEM), headed up by the CRNH de Nantes, dedicated to the effects of perinatal diet on adult health.

panel W056
The breast milk problem: cultural considerations when mother's own milk is unavailable