219063 Is breastfeeding framed as a social justice issue?

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 4:30 PM - 4:50 PM

Lori Dorfman, DrPH , Public Health Institute, Berkeley Media Studies Group, Berkeley, CA
Heather Gehlert, MJ , Public Health Institute, Berkeley Media Studies Group, Berkeley, CA
Laurie True , California WIC Association, Sacramento, CA
Karen Farley, RD, IBCLC , California WIC Association, Sacramento, CA
Background: Frames about breastfeeding are powerful because they foster certain interpretations and hinder others, often without the person's awareness. News frames are especially important because they influence how the public and policy makers approach an issue.

Methods: To discover what frames are operating in news about breastfeeding and how those frames relate to the California WIC Association's policy goals, we analyzed news coverage and other materials focused on establishing baby-friendly hospitals in California.

Results: Dominant frames included: the Good Mother, Food, Modernity, and Nature. Good Mothers ensure the health and well being of their baby above all other concerns. Food is depicted as medicine since, more than a source of nourishment for infants, breastfeeding is said to prevent disease. This brings in Modernity and science, which is contrasted with Nature since breastfeeding is also considered natural. Formula companies take advantage of these frames when they claim their products are produced by the best science yet are all natural. Most frames we found focus on the mother and baby without reference to the larger context or environment.

Implications: Frames that reinforce the mother's personal responsibility for the health of the baby dominate news coverage on breastfeeding. Without expanding the frame to include the environments (hospitals, homes, and workplaces) in which “good mothers” exist, it will be difficult to frame breastfeeding as a social justice issue. Thinking in terms of “mother AND baby-friendly” may help advocates illuminate the conditions that must be changed if policies supporting breastfeeding are to be widely adopted.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
By the end of the session, participants will be able to 1. Identify the importance of frames in advocating for breastfeeding. 2. Describe the dominant frames in news coverage of breastfeeding. 3. Discuss the framing conflicts advocates must resolve if they are to position breastfeeding as a social justice issue.

Keywords: Media Message, Advocacy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I designed the research, supervised the team that conducted the analysis, and co-authored the paper.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.