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Breastfeeding, Infant feeding, Metasynthesis, Qualitative research



  1. Nelson, Antonia M. RNC, PhD, IBCLC


Purpose: The purpose of this metasynthesis was to synthesize the findings of qualitative research studies related to infant feeding decision making and contribute to an increased understanding of this phenomenon.


Method: Noblit and Hare's (1988) metaethnographic, comparative method of synthesizing qualitative studies was utilized.


Sample: Computerized searches were conducted using the CINAHL, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and the SocINDEX databases. Articles from indexed journals related to infant feeding decision making published from 1990 to 2011 were reviewed. Fourteen qualitative studies were identified, and all were included in the metasynthesis.


Data Collection/Analysis: Findings were extracted from individual studies and organized in tables to place them in juxtaposition with each other. Comparisons were then made across studies and metaphors written to express a new, broader interpretation.


Results: Two processes emerged as central to maternal infant feeding decision making: making a personal choice and defending the choice. In addition six themes were identified indicative of issues that influenced these two processes: knowing "breast is best," disapproval of public breastfeeding, sense of personal comfort, level of confidence/commitment, need for support, and perceived lifestyle compatibility.


Clinical Nursing Implications: There is a need for healthcare providers to support women with infant feeding decision making by helping them address issues suggested by this metasynthesis while at the same time respecting their right to self-determination.