Long-term breastfeeding: changing attitudes and overcoming challenges

The Australian Breastfeeding Association is delighted to announce Dr Karleen Gribble as the winner of the Mary Paton Research Award for 2007 for her paper Long-term breastfeeding: changing attitudes and overcoming challenges.

Dr Gribble is a mother of two, one born to her and one adopted as a toddler, both breastfed. She lives and works in New South Wales. Currently Dr Gribble is an Adjunct Fellow of the School of Nursing at the University of Western Sydney, her research for this study was self-funded. Dr Gribble has also been involved as an ABA Community Educator with the Wyoming Group for many years.

Dr Gribble’s paper explores the experiences of 107 Australian women who were breastfeeding a child two years or older, 87% of whom had not originally intended to breastfeed long-term, with many who had initially felt disgust for breastfeeding beyond infancy. Mothers changed their opinion about long-term breastfeeding as they saw their child enjoy breastfeeding, as their knowledge about breastfeeding increased and as they were exposed to long-term breastfeeding role models.

Mothers in the study had overcome many challenges in order to continue breastfeeding and breastfeeding was sometimes, discontinuous, with children weaning from days to years before resuming breastfeeding. The study suggested that postnatal interventions may be successful in increasing breastfeeding duration. Such interventions might include: continuing provision of breastfeeding information throughout the lactation period, facilitation of exposure to long-term breastfeeding, and referral to peer breastfeeding support organisations.

Access Dr Gribble’s paper here