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Mary Paton Research Award 2005

Dr Linda Sweet

Breastfeeding a preterm infant and the objectification of breastmilk

The 2005 Mary Paton Research Award winner is Dr Linda Sweet for her paper entitled Breastfeeding a preterm infant and the objectification of breastmilk.

Linda lives and works in South Australia. She has been a midwifery educator with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital most recently and has spent very few days in her new job before travelling to Tasmania with her family this week! Linda's research was conducted with funding from the Research Foundation at the Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide, and a completion scholarship from the University of South Australia.

Linda's paper explores the objectification (or in other words externalising) of breastmilk, which results from long-term breast expression by parents of hospitalised very low birth weight preterm infants. Whilst there is a range of reasons women have given for ceasing breastfeeding for preterm infants, this study aimed to increase knowledge and understanding of how parents experience breastfeeding, to assist nurses and other health care professionals to improve the clinical care received by families, and to improve the preterm breastfeeding experience.

As a result of her research, Linda believes her study has shown that the objectivity of preterm breastfeeding can lead to negative experiences for women and their families. Objective infant feeding, that is dependent simply on milk provision or food service, places no value to the subjective experience of breastfeeding women and indeed undermines the mothers' breastfeeding desires, abilities and outcomes.

ABA congratulates Linda on the excellence and success of her research.

Photo: Linda (R) receiving her award from ABA President Wendy Burge (L) at the 2005 ABA International Conference, Hobart.