MONITORING MILK AND MOTHERHOOD: Lactation Consultants and the Dilemmas of Breastfeeding Advocacy

Waggoner, Miranda R.
March 2011
International Journal of Sociology of the Family;Spring2011, Vol. 37 Issue 1, p153
Academic Journal
Research devoted to the topic of breastfeeding in contemporary society has largely focused on maternal experiences, at the micro level, and on policy messages directed at mothers, at the macro level. This paper adds to the literature by analyzing a heretofore understudied meso-level link in the breastfeeding process: the work of lactation consultants. Using data from in-depth interviews with International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, I examine how they characterize their role in shaping early motherhood. Findings reveal that by highlighting the realities and subjectivities of individual women and by emphasizing maternal empowerment and choice, professional lactation consultants aim to realize women's individual goals. In their practice of monitoring early motherhood, lactation consultants often resist the normative breastfeeding ideology and thereby interrupt broader policy projects that aim to foster wholesale change in maternal infant feeding practices.


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