Managing the dynamics of shame in breastfeeding support

Dawn Leeming

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter examines research on women’s experiences of breastfeeding which explores how shame might arise where they face challenges with this. It then considers what might be learned about breastfeeding support from a body of literature that has previously been overlooked in relation to infant feeding: the literature on shame and shame resilience. Exploring the differences between shame (feeling lesser in some way and unworthy of acceptance) and guilt (the sense that one has done something wrong), the chapter explains why shame is more likely than guilt to lead to interpersonal problems, including difficulties in receiving support. The key argument in this chapter is that it is important to broaden the discussion of the emotional impact of not meeting breastfeeding expectations beyond the consideration of guilt. In doing so, those supporting and promoting breastfeeding can become attuned to the trickier interpersonal dynamics of shame and the sociocultural contexts which produce it.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial Experiences of Breastfeeding
Subtitle of host publicationBuilding Bridges between Research, Policy and Practice
EditorsSally Dowling, David Pontin , Kate Boyer
Place of PublicationBristol
PublisherPolicy Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781447338529, 9781447338512
ISBN (Print)9781447338505, 9781447338499
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sep 2018


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  • Researching a Taboo

    Dawn Leeming (Speaker)

    28 Apr 2022

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


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