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The influence of partners on feeding: A personal reflection

02 January 2019
9 min read
Volume 27 · Issue 1


Research suggests that partner support is one of the biggest determinants of women's health choices (Scott et al, 2006), yet partner inclusion in maternity care is often overlooked. This article critically reflects on a personal encounter with a breastfeeding woman and her husband that highlights these issues. It explores the literature on breastfeeding influences, focusing on partner support and sociocultural background. This personal reflection also examines how greater knowledge of these factors helps to foster more meaningful communication with women and their families.

In this article, I will critically reflect on an encounter with a breastfeeding woman and her husband that highlights issues of partner support, cultural influences and, in light of these, meaningful and effective communication. The appointment took place during my second year as a student midwife. Reflecting on this has helped to develop my competency in standard 4.1 of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Standards for pre-registration midwifery education:

‘Women can expect a newly registered midwife to understand and share information that is clear, accurate and meaningful at a level which women, their partners and family can understand.’

This is also in keeping with the continued emphasis from UK maternity services on the importance of partner involvement in care (Royal College of Midwives (RCM), 2011). Reflection is the systematic re-examination of experience, which aims to promote personal and professional development, whether through diary writing, verbal discourse, or formal written reflection (Persson et al, 2015; Bzowyckyj et al, 2017). For the purposes of this article, Gibbs' iterative model (1988) has been used as an appropriate tool to reflect on this experience (Bulman and Schultz, 2013). Pseudonyms will be used throughout the article to refer to those involved to maintain confidentiality (NMC, 2015). The woman in our care will be referred to as Adebola and her partner as Ali. Both Adebola and Ali gave informed consent for their experience to be shared.

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