Shabir, Rumaanah Anisa (2017) The Experience of Infant Feeding for Women Diagnosed with an Eating Disorder: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Feeding a baby has varied meanings for mothers, related to both images of mothering and ideas about bodily control and connection. For mothers with eating disorders these meanings may be shaped by additional concerns about body image, nutrition, weight and identity. The research available places particular importance on the difficulties during pregnancy, when adjusting to a changed body and conflicts between preferred eating patterns and the demands of pregnancy arise. However, there is very little research focusing specifically on the post-partum period in relation to the experiences of infant feeding for those with eating disorders which might usefully inform support for these women and their babies. Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) the current research aimed to explore the lived experience of infant feeding for women who had a current or previous diagnosis of either anorexia or bulimia and who still experienced challenges related to eating during early motherhood. Six women aged between 31-39 years were interviewed using a semi-structured telephone interview. Interpretive engagement with the data led to the identification of four master themes. These highlighted challenges faced by participants, such as feeling overwhelmed by nutritional advice for breastfeeding, as this conflicted with the requirements of disordered practices. This was however, a motivation for some to ‘give up’ anorexia or bulimia. Therefore, the findings provide an insight into infant feeding for women with eating disorders as potentially both challenging and rewarding. These findings suggest that, despite challenges, breastfeeding helped participants in shifting their identity given their sense of purpose, as well as a new found appreciation of a body that, though somewhat damaged by an eating disorder, was now able to breastfeed. Support for mothers who experience difficulties with eating and weight needs to address issues unique to this group, such as the challenges of nutritional intake and bodily changes, whilst recognising the resilience of many women and the positive meanings provided by motherhood and breastfeeding.

FINAL THESIS - Shabir.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (553kB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email