Breastfeeding throughout legal separation: Womens experiences of the Australian family law system

Linda Sweet

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    In 2006, the Australian Government introduced the Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Act 2006 (Cth), which put in place a legal presumption of shared parental responsibility for children after separation and which emphasizes ĝ€equal-timeĝ€ parenting arrangements regardless of the childs age. A qualitative approach was taken to investigate breastfeeding womens experiences of the implementation of the act and its impact on their ability to maintain breastfeeding. Fifteen women responded to questions related to their breastfeeding and their engagement with the family law system. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed, and data were then analyzed thematically. These women experienced inconsistent advice from all facets of legal services, including opinions about the inappropriateness of breastfeeding for infants over 6 months of age. Breastfeeding was considered only as nutrition, without recognition of its immunological and cognitive benefits and the security and comfort it provides. Many participant women felt that they had been persuaded against discussing breastfeeding in the legal system, resulting in a sense of disempowerment.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)384-392
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Human Lactation
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2010


    • Best interests of the child
    • Breastfeeding
    • Family law
    • Separation


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