Objective Despite efforts to improve continued breastfeeding, the percentages of exclusively breastfeeding remain low. To help the breastfeeding mother and reshape professional practice, we need more knowledge of maternal experiences of breastfeeding in the first months. The objective was to explore mothers' early breastfeeding experiences. Method Qualitative content analysis was used to analyse data from 108 Danish first time mothers who had answered an open-ended question 6 months after birth. Results All the mothers started breastfeeding. We identified three overlapping phases presented as dominant themes: (1) on shaky ground, characterised by breastfeeding interwoven with mothering, painful breastfeeding, and conflicting advice, (2) searching for a foothold, characterised by reading the baby's cues, concerns about milk production, for or against breastfeeding, and looking for professional support, and (3) at ease with choice of feeding, characterised by a thriving baby, trust in breastfeeding capability, and approval of feeding preference. Together these themes and subthemes constituted the overall theme: being on a breastfeeding–bonding trajectory. Conclusion Supporting the new breastfeeding mother should include facilitation of the transition to motherhood, learning to read the baby's cues, developing a sense of the right attachment at the breast, and building up the mother's confidence in her capability to care for the baby and produce a sufficient milk supply.
Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, 2015, Vol 6, Issue 2, p. 82-87
breastfeeding; postpartum period; mother-child relationship; postnatal care; professional-patient relations; communication