New mothers transitioning to employment: impact on infant feeding practices

Hilary Monk, Helen Hall

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


In many countries, including Australia, new mothers return to employment before their child is 12 months old (Marinelli et al., Breastfeed Med 8(1):137–142. doi:10.​1089/​bfm.​2013.​9999, 2013). During this time the woman and her infant undergo multiple transitions. They need to adjust to time away from each other, new significant caregivers and changes associated with infant feeding. Although breastfeeding benefits are well documented (World Health Organization, Health topics: Breastfeeding. Retrieved from: http://​www.​who.​int/​topics/​breastfeeding/​en/​, 2012), many women chose to transition to bottle feeding in preparation for returning to work (Bai and Wunderlich, J Midwifery Womens Health 58(6):690–696. doi:10.​1111/​jmwh.​12072, 2013). As infant feeding occurs within social and cultural contexts, these can have significant influence on a mother’s decision making (Leeming et al., Psychol Health 28(4):450–468. doi:10.​1080/​08870446.​2012.​737465, 2013). Our interdisciplinary study framed within sociocultural theory found three interconnected themes relating to infant feeding: women’s choices, interpersonal tensions and institutional expectations. These arose from family, workplace and nonparental childcare contexts. Cultural practices in these multifaceted and complex contexts were experienced together by mother and infant during the transition of mother’s return to employment. We provide a model of transition relationships in cultural contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStudying Babies and Toddlers
Subtitle of host publicationRelationships in Cultural Contexts
EditorsLiang Li, Gloria Quinones, Avis Ridgway
Place of PublicationSingapore
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9789811031977
ISBN (Print)9789811031953
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameInternational Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Development
ISSN (Print)2468-8746
ISSN (Electronic)2468-8754


  • Infant feeding
  • Childcare
  • Transition
  • Employment
  • Women’s choices

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