Childhood sexual abuse, Breastfeeding, Case study, Qualitative research



  1. Beck, Cheryl Tatano DNSc, CNM, FAAN


Purpose: To increase clinicians' understanding of the impact that child sexual abuse can have on women's breastfeeding experiences.


Study Design and Methods: This was a holistic, single-case study. Data were collected via the Internet. One mother sent her story of her childhood sexual abuse and its impact on her breastfeeding experiences by attachment to the researcher. Yin's pattern matching was used to develop the case description. A combination of linear-analytic and chronological structures was used to write up this case study.


Results: This case study vividly and painfully describes the impact of Marilyn's childhood sexual abuse not only on her labor and delivery but also on how it permeated her breastfeeding attempts. Breastfeeding triggered panic attacks, dissociation, and flashbacks to the child sexual abuse.


Clinical Implications: When women seem to be struggling with breastfeeding and sinking deeper into what could be depression or posttraumatic stress disorder due to childbirth, nurses might need to help them by giving permission to stop breastfeeding if that is what they need to do for their own mental health.