Based on an ethnography of postpartum consultations by independent midwives in Switzerland, this book produces unique insights into home-birth parents’ breastfeeding journey from the first hours after birth to weaning. Considered the "natural" continuity of childbirth without intervention, breastfeeding is a fundamental component of the holistic, continuous and individualised care independent midwives provide as they engage with parents in a shared construction of meaning around breastfeeding.
This book offers new perspectives on the conceptualisation of breastfeeding as a shared process. Parents, in collaboration with their midwife and baby, are jointly constructing "negotiated breastfeeding". As the child grows and develops, questions arise regarding the management of risks, the construction of the lactating body and the body work required, and the perception of breastfeeding as a means of communication with the child, consistent with a "child-centred" approach to parenting. Fostering a reflection on the contrasts and similarities between the marginal model of holistic care and the dominant biomedical model, this book sheds light on issues of a broader scope: the relationship to health risks and health promotion, gender inequalities regarding parental roles and responsibilities, the concept of the child as a "project", and the consequential "intensification" of parenthood. The book also explores transversal themes by outlining how reproduction and parenting are undertaken in Switzerland, framed by the local cultural, political and economic context, including the gender system and resulting power relationships.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Fiona Dykes
1 Holistic care in Switzerland and my ethnographic study
2 Reinventing parenthood through breastfeeding: risk-centric society and embodied parenting
3 Feeding to thrive
4 Building the lactating body
5 The communicating feed
Caroline Chautems is a Swiss National Science Foundation research fellow at the Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lausanne, Switzerland. She is also a lecturer at the Geneva School of Health Sciences. A social and medical anthropologist, Dr. Chautems is currently working on Swiss caesarean culture, including the emergence of new obstetrical and therapeutic practices. Her research interests focus on reproduction and parenthood, with a particular attention given to gender and bodies in regard to parenting and health policy.