Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

David Himmelgreen, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Jaime Corvin, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Daniel Lende, Ph.D.


Barriers, Breastfeeding, Protective factors, Social support, Stigma


The international recommendation for breastfeeding is that a baby should be exclusively breastfed for six months. Breastfeeding should be continued for up to two years and beyond with complementary foods (WHO, 2016). The United Kingdom exhibits some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world (HSCIC, 2012). The percentage of mothers who breastfed in the United Kingdom falls below 34% at six months, with only 1% of mothers breastfeeding exclusively at this point (HSCIC, 2012:31). This study sought to examine the protective factors and barriers for breastfeeding in the UK. Mums (n=28), their partners (n=6), and facilitators at breastfeeding support services (n=3) were interviewed (n=37) to learn more about breastfeeding experiences and related factors. Mums (n=28) also completed the Breastfeeding Self-Efficacy Scale Short-Form. Factors related to individual knowledge and beliefs, support from partners, family, and friends, clinical experiences, formal support, and stigma all played central roles in the mum’s breastfeeding experience. Efforts should be made to address these factors at community, organizational, and policy levels to improve breastfeeding in the UK.