Shloim, N., S, Hugh-Jones, M.C.J Rudolf, R.G. Feltbower, O. Loans, and M. M. Hetherington. “‘It’s like giving him a piece of me’: Exploring UK and Israeli Women’s Accounts of Motherhood and Feeding.” Appetite 95 (2015): 58-66.
The present study explored how Israeli and UK mothers integrate feeding into their conceptualisations of mothering 2–6 months post-partum.
The nature and importance of motherhood is subject to differential contextual, cultural, political and historical influences. We set out to compare experiences of motherhood and feeding between these two countries using a qualitative approach.
Forty one women (mean age 36.4 ± 2.7 years) from Israel and the UK, mostly married or in a committed relationship were interviewed about their experience of pregnancy, motherhood and feeding. Data were analysed thematically.
The experience of motherhood in the early postnatal period was dominated, for all mothers, by the experience of breastfeeding and clustered around three representations of mothering, namely; 1) a devoted mother who ignores her own needs; 2) a mother who is available for her infant but acknowledges her needs as well; and 3) a struggling mother for whom motherhood is a burden. Such representations existed within both cultural groups and sometimes coexisted within the same mothers. UK women described more struggles within motherhood whereas a tendency towards idealising motherhood was observed for Israeli women.
There are similarities in the ways that UK and Israeli women experienced motherhood and feeding. Where family life is strongly emphasized, mothers reported extremes of idealism and burden and associated an “ideal” mother with a breastfeeding mother. Where motherhood is represented as just one of many roles women take up, they are more likely to represent a “good enough” approach to mothering. Understanding the experience of motherhood and feeding in different cultural settings is important to provide the context for postnatal care specifically where mothers are reluctant to share problems or difficulties encountered.