Women’s experiences of formula feeding their infants: an interpretative phenomenological study

Kin Yan Sze, Zenobia Chung Yee Chan, Vico Chung Lim Chiang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: This study aimed to explore the experiences of women in the process of formula feeding their infants. The World Health Organization has emphasized the importance of breastfeeding for infant health. After decades of breastfeeding promotions, breastfeeding rates in Hong Kong have been rising consistently; however, the low continuation rate is alarming. This study explores women’s experiences with formula feeding their infants, including factors affecting their decision to do so. Methods: A qualitative approach using an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was adopted as the study design. Data were collected from 2014 to 2015 through individual in-depth unstructured interviews with 16 women, conducted between 3 and 12 months after the birth of their infant. Data were analyzed using IPA. Results: Three main themes emerged as follows: (1) self-struggle, with the subthemes of feeling like a milk cow and feeling trapped; (2) family conflict, with the subtheme of sharing the spotlight; and (3) interpersonal tensions, with the subthemes of embarrassment, staring, and innocence. Many mothers suffered various stressors and frustrations during breastfeeding. These findings suggest a number of pertinent areas that need to be considered in preparing an infant feeding campaign. Conclusions: The findings of this study reinforce our knowledge of women’s struggles with multiple sources of pressure, such as career demands, childcare demands, and family life after giving birth. All mothers should be given assistance in making informed decisions about the optimal approach to feeding their babies given their individual situation and be provided with support to pursue their chosen feeding method.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-59
Number of pages11
JournalFrontiers of Nursing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • Breastfeeding
  • Education
  • Experience
  • Feeding decision
  • Formula feeding
  • Infant feeding
  • Interpretative phenomenological analysis
  • Nurse
  • Nursing
  • Qualitative
  • Support
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Education


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