Infant feeding among women with a history of breast cancer

Ilana R. Azulay Chertok, Jacqueline H. Wolf, Shana Beigelman, Ellen Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: Health professional organizations recommend exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, but there are mothers, such as those with a history of breast cancer, who are unable to exclusively provide their milk for their infants. Minimal research has been published on mothers’ experience with lactation, breastfeeding, and bottle-feeding after breast cancer. This study explored mothers’ perspectives of infant feeding after a history of breast cancer. Methods: Qualitative interviews were completed with 20 mothers who had experience with infant feeding after breast cancer, including exclusive breastfeeding, partial provision of human milk with formula supplementation, and exclusive formula feeding. Results: Mothers shared their perceptions, barriers, and experiences of infant feeding. Four themes were identified: miracle of motherhood after breast cancer, medical misinformation or no available information contributing to the exacerbation of mothers’ worries, post-breast-cancer feeding challenges, and desire for infant-feeding support rather than pressure. Conclusions: Mothers who have had breast cancer and have since given birth face specific challenges to infant feeding which are compounded by limited resources and knowledge among healthcare providers. Findings of the study highlight the importance of healthcare professionals becoming more educated to provide adequate support and evidence-based information on lactation and infant feeding for women with a history of breast cancer. Implications for Cancer Survivors: Understanding the experiences of women who have given birth after breast cancer can help women in similar situations know that they are not alone, identify resources, access peer support, and seek evidence-based infant feeding advice from healthcare providers involved in their care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-362
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cancer Survivorship
Volume14
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Breast cancer
  • Infant feeding
  • Mothers’ experience
  • Qualitative study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)

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