Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Heather E. Dillaway


Leading medical organizations recommend breastfeeding for at least a year. The Center for Disease Control (CDC 2011) estimates that 74% of women initiate breastfeeding, while only 23.8% of infants are breastfed until age 1 in the United States. These statistics indicate that while there is an increase in women trying to breastfeed, there are barriers to sustained breastfeeding. Some studies indicate that negative experiences while breastfeeding in public creates a barrier to breastfeeding (Boyer 2010; McIntyre et al. 1999; Smyth 2008). This research contributes to existent literature on breastfeeding. I used a different type of analysis to explore attitudes and perceptions about public breastfeeding than the type used in previous research. I examined comments associated with five public breastfeeding cases as reported in online news stories in 2011. I performed a qualitative content analysis of these news stories and public responses to them. Furthermore, I looked at specific ways in which public breastfeeding is framed in public discourse rather than relying on the perceptions of breastfeeding mothers. This offers a differing perspective than that of most of the other literature on breastfeeding. Through this analysis, we can see that the social construction of women's bodies and ideas about when and where they are allowed to be are at the heart of the public breastfeeding debate.

Included in

Sociology Commons