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breast-feeding, Gadamerian hermeneutics, nurses, philosophy, support



  1. Grassley, Jane S. PhD, RN, IBCLC
  2. Nelms, Tommie P. PhD, RN


Nurses play a vital role in mothers' early experiences with breast-feeding. Literature enumerates both supportive and nonsupportive behaviors, as well as the "interpersonal" aspect of breast-feeding support, although little direction is given to nurses about how to facilitate the relationship. This article conceptualizes breast-feeding support within Gadamerian hermeneutics as a conversation among nurses, mothers, and their newborns. Hermeneutically, breast-feeding conversation encompasses a text (a particular feeding at the breast), conversational partners (a mother, her newborn, and a nurse), and a dialogue that facilitates effective breast-feeding and maternal breast-feeding confidence through interpretation or understanding of the text. History and language are essential as a partnership is formed.