Breastfeeding, Caring, Empowerment, Qualitative research



  1. Miller, Carrie Westmoreland PhD, RN, CNE, CHSE, IBCLC
  2. Wojnar, Danuta PhD, RN, MN, MED, IBCLC, FAAN


Purpose: Many women struggle with initiation of breastfeeding. The purpose of this study was to explore mothers' perceptions of care and support received from clinicians during breastfeeding initiation and the utility of Swanson's (1991) Theory of Caring to provide person-centered care to breastfeeding mothers and infants.


Study Design and Methods: Directed content of secondary analysis of data obtained from 11 women via in-person interviews at three time points: before birth, a week after giving birth, and 6 to 8 weeks after giving birth. All women were breastfeeding at the end of the study interview series. Swanson's Theory of Caring provided the theoretical framework for the analysis.


Results: Two overarching themes The Acts of Caring and The Lapses in Caring summarized women's experiences of care received during the initiation of breastfeeding. Five subthemes supported the Acts of Caring theme, and three subthemes supported the Lapses in Caring theme.


Clinical Implications: Although all study participants chose to breastfeed after hospital discharge and the majority felt well supported, some received care that was perceived as uncaring, unsupportive, or harmful. Providing breastfeeding support consistent with research evidence and underpinnings of Swanson's Theory of Caring may help women build trusting relationships with clinicians and feel confident in meeting their breastfeeding goals.