Toward a Situation-Specific Theory of Breastfeeding.

Antonia M Nelson

Document Type Article


This article reports a preliminary situation-specific theory of breastfeeding developed using an integrative, inductive approach (Im & Meleis, 1999). The theory purports varying levels of conflict versus congruity existing between the mother/infant dyad, a mother and her support networks, and both between and within the networks, all of which either block or facilitate breastfeeding. The theory proposes that to decrease conflict, professionals need to carefully consider their approach to promoting and supporting breastfeeding so as to respect the right of maternal decision-making and to avoid semblances of coercion or paternalism. "Salutary breastfeeding" is proposed as a new, ideal breastfeeding experience that is positive, healthy, and fulfilling, yet encompasses acknowledgement of diversity in maternal/infant dyads and situational context.