Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Katherine Kavanagh

Committee Members

Hillary Fouts, Melissa Hansen-Petrik


The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the experiences of low-income breastfeeding women in East Tennessee. Participants were recruited from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and from a birth registry housed at the university. Eligibility criteria included women who were currently breastfeeding infants less than 9 months of age and were income-eligible for WIC. Data were collected through audiorecorded in-depth telephone interviews. Eighteen interviews were conducted. Recording error led to only 16 interviews being available for analysis. However, saturation was still achieved. Transcripts were coded by a coding team, using standard coding techniques. Using grounded theory and cluster analysis, major themes emerged including aversions to formula-feeding, commitment to overcome the challenges of breastfeeding, desire for additional support, and assessing abilities through comparison with others‟ experiences. In conclusion, results of this qualitative work indicate that low-income women who choose to breastfeed recognize the differences of others‟ breastfeeding experiences and are aware of difficulties that can arise with either breastfeeding or formula-feeding.

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Included in

Nutrition Commons