What Does It Mean to Be Breastfed? A Concept Analysis in the Context of Healthcare Research, Clinical Practice, and the Parent Perspective

Kristin M. Elgersma, Samantha A. Sommerness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Over the past 3 decades, there have been attempts to define breastfeeding for scientific research. However, a lack of clarity remains, with concurrent ambiguity in clinical practice and insufficient inclusion of the parent perspective. Furthermore, previous concept analyses of "breastfeeding" may not fully represent what it means for an infant to be breastfed. Therefore, this concept analysis sought to define "breastfed" in the context of Western healthcare research, clinical practice, and the parent perspective. Informed by Rodgers' evolutionary method, a literature search resulted in 16 representative articles, with related terms, attributes, antecedents, and consequences identified. Analysis of the literature resulted in a theoretical definition of breastfed as a valuable process, experience, or characteristic that involves human milk consumption by an infant through a variety of delivery methods. To be breastfed relies on the existence of lactation, whether from a parent or another source, and depends upon the intentional decision of a birthing person, caregiver, or provider. It is recommended that healthcare providers and institutions adopt this inclusive definition, committing to a linguistic and conceptual distinction between a breastfed infant and direct breastfeeding. Increased clarity may improve comparability between studies, reporting to government agencies, provider communication, and supportive, family-centered care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-312
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing
Volume35
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2021 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • breastfeeding
  • concept formation
  • evidence-based practice
  • human
  • infant
  • milk
  • nutritional physiological phenomena

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