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Midwives in the UK: An Exploratory Study of Providing Newborn Feeding Support for Postpartum Mothers in the Hospital


  • Christine M. Furber RM, PhD,

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    • Christine Furber is a full time Midwifery Lecturer (Teaching) in the School of Nursing, Midwifery & Social Work at The University of Manchester. This study was carried out as part fulfilment of a PhD award.

  • Ann M. Thomson RM, MSc

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    • Ann Thomson is Professor of Midwifery in the School of Nursing, Midwifery & Social Work at The University of Manchester. Professor Thomson supervised this study.

Christine Furber, RM, PhD, Midwifery Lecturer (Teaching)/Research Associate, School of Nursing, Midwifery & Social Work, The University of Manchester, Gateway House, Piccadilly South, Manchester, United Kingdom M60 7LP. E-mail:


Our objective was to explore English midwives' views and experiences of supporting mothers with feeding their newborn baby. Grounded theory methodology was used. Data were collected using in-depth interviews from 30 midwives in the North of England. Data were analyzed using constant comparison techniques. Midwives were theoretically sampled for interview from a pool of volunteers recruited from a poster promoting the study in the clinical areas. Overall, hospital midwives felt that they did not have enough time to support mothers with feeding their neonate. To cope with these time constraints, midwives developed practices of rationing the time that they spent with mothers, and the rationing of resources available to mothers, to help them process mothers through the hospital services. These practices have important implications for the success of breastfeeding in hospitals as the practices by providers who are assigned to help breastfeeding initiation described here may inhibit the breastfeeding process.