“How about we give it a go?”: a case study on supporting breastfeeding families in an Australian child care centre

Emma Woolley*, Shirley Wyver

*Corresponding author for this work

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    The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continuation of breastfeeding for up to two years. Formal child care has an important role in supporting breastfeeding, as many Australian infants commence care before two years of age. Currently, little is known about support or barriers in child care contexts. The present qualitative instrumental case study explores practices which protect, promote and support breastfeeding at a child care centre located in the Australian Capital Territory’s outer suburbs. Extending from a previously published collective case study, a cultural-institutional focus of analysis was used to explore the roles of proximity, flexibility and communication in supporting breastfeeding within a child care centre located close to an infant’s home. Interviews with centre staff and mothers, triangulated with observations of the centre environment and policy documents provide insight into the environment. Affirming the roles of flexibility in routine and staff rostering and two-way communication, findings suggest longer-term benefits may be derived from selecting a child care centre close to an infant’s home, provided mothers can overcome barriers to breastmilk expression in the workplace. The study recognises the role of non-lactating caregivers in the transition to formal child care, and of the support culture for educators who breastfeed. This study extends the knowledge base of breastfeeding support interventions in the child care setting to inform future research and policy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number195
    Pages (from-to)1-13
    Number of pages13
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • Breast feeding
    • Breast milk expression
    • Child care centres
    • Early childhood education
    • Employed women
    • Family work relationship
    • Fathers
    • Infant
    • Qualitative research
    • Return to work


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