The Breastfeeding Experiences of Canadian Teenage Mothers


Address for correspondence: Alison Nelson, RN, MN, IBCLC, Instructor, Faculty of Nursing, 2500 University Drive, NW, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, CANADA T2N 1N4. E-mail:


Objective: To discover the phenomenon of breastfeeding as experienced by teenage mothers.

Design: Grounded theory method was used to study the first-time breastfeeding experiences of teenage mothers, aged 15 to 19 years.

Setting: The research occurred between September 2000 and April 2001 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Participants: A purposive sample of 8 teenage mothers was recruited through self-identification and Calgary Health Region staff referral.

Data Generation and Analysis: The data were generated using informal interviews and demographic questionnaires. The data were transcribed, coded, and analyzed using constant comparative method.

Results: The emergent core variable was Teenage Mothers: Continuously Committing to Breastfeeding. Four categories supported the core variable: (a) Deciding to Breastfeed, (b) Learning to Breastfeed, (c) Adjusting to Breastfeeding, and (d) Ending Breastfeeding. The two supporting subcategories were (a) Vacillating Between the Good Things and Hard Things About Breastfeeding and (b) Social Support and Other Social Influences.

Conclusion: Teenage mothers’ breastfeeding experiences may be similar to adult women's breastfeeding experiences, but teenage mothers may require additional breastfeeding support.