G5 Doctoral dissertation (article)
Pitkään imettäneet äidit : tutkimus äitien fyysisestä, sosiaalisesta ja emotionaalisesta tilasta (2021)
Long-term breastfeeding mothers : study of physical, social and emotional space of mothers.

Säilävaara, J. (2021). Pitkään imettäneet äidit : tutkimus äitien fyysisestä, sosiaalisesta ja emotionaalisesta tilasta [Doctoral dissertation]. Jyväskylän yliopisto. JYU Dissertations, 347. http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-8503-5

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsSäilävaara, Jenny


Journal or seriesJYU Dissertations


Publication year2021

Number in series347

Number of pages in the book1 verkkoaineisto (79 sivua, 31 sivua useina numerointijaksoina, 25 numeroimatonta sivua)

PublisherJyväskylän yliopisto

Place of PublicationJyväskylä

Publication countryFinland

Publication languageFinnish

Persistent website addresshttp://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-8503-5

Publication open accessOpenly available

Publication channel open accessOpen Access channel


Different norms define what is considered normal in breastfeeding. In Finland, mothers are expected to breastfeed their children, with the duration of the breastfeeding period defined by health authorities as well as cultural expectations. The national goal is to make Finland one of the top breastfeeding countries statistically, yet at the same time many mothers struggle to breastfeed. This study examines breastfeeding beyond infancy (12 months) as a cultural phenomenon. The point of view is in gender studies, and it follows the tradition of feminist studies by giving a voice and space to mothers while studying norms and expectations critically. Mothers in Finland are typically expected to breastfeed for one year at the most. The concept of long-term breastfeeding was analyzed in four substudies that each had their own point of view: physical space, embodiment, relationality, and good mothering in media discourses. The study is based on an interest in space and its physical, social and emotional construction. The research questions were as follows: How is physical, social and emotional space constructed in the mothers’ writings and media texts? The study is based on two different datasets. In the first, 39 written accounts of Finnish mothers who have breastfed over 12 months were collected in 2012. These data were analyzed by qualitative content analysis. The second dataset consists of media texts about long-term breastfeeding and public breastfeeding published by two major Finnish news sites between 2014 and 2017. These data were analyzed by discourse analysis. The results suggest that long-term breastfeeding challenges the normativity of “fit” and “unfit” mothering. The study contributes to diversifying the understanding of mothering. It reveals that mothers face problems in physical space, social space is filled with conventions of what is proper, and emotional space is defined by fit and unfit emotions. This study concentrates on mothers’ experiences and media texts rather than health authorities’ statements and therefore contributes to breaking down the medicalization of breastfeeding.

Keywordsbreastfeedingmaternitysupportingbabiesfeedingmothersbodilinessexperiences (knowledge)gender research

Free keywordsLong-term breastfeeding; space; mothering; embodiment; relationality

Contributing organizations

Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2021

Last updated on 2024-03-04 at 20:05