Sociology student to showcase infant feeding research project in Parliament
A third year Sociology student has been invited to present her research on infant feeding choices in the UK to Parliament in a few weeks, as part of a showcase of the best undergraduate research from across the country.
Florence Gaughan, currently in her final year of BA Sociology, took part in the most recent Sheffield Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) scheme and is one of only two participants in this year’s scheme from across the University of Sheffield who has been selected to present her research to MPs in Parliament.
The SURE scheme offers undergraduate students an opportunity to become directly involved in the research activity of the University by taking part in a research project of their own over a six-week period.
Florence’s SURE project was titled ‘Breast or bottle? A qualitative inquiry into what influences infant feeding choices in the UK’. The project aimed to uncover the infant feeding experiences of some mothers in Sheffield, and mothers were asked about how they perceived advice from different sources to try and understand how their relationships and interactions could influence their feeding choices.
I hope that people will see from the results that women need lots of sensitive support after having their babies and that they learn something about mothers’ experiences by reading my poster.
florence gaughan, ba sociology student
Florence explained: “Issues that may affect women’s choices about breastfeeding, such as social pressure, physical problems, practicality issues and common conceptions of breastfeeding were explored. Other social factors such as the imagery around breasts and the perceived appropriate use of breasts were considered when trying to discover why many women stop breastfeeding early in the UK compared with international averages.
“I chose the area of motherhood and infant feeding because after having my own child during my degree, I started thinking about the issues that were affecting myself and other mums that I know in a sociological sense. Feelings of being judged for breastfeeding or formula feeding; or feeling pressured into doing either is a common experience for women after childbirth. After looking at the literature I found a small gap in how advice from professionals and family interact to assist in decision making about feeding so I thought this would be a good topic to look at.”
Florence will present her research on 14 March 2017 at the Posters in Parliament event. It is part of the British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR), which is dedicated to encouraging a national culture of undergraduate research.
For undergraduate students, Posters in Parliament is a great opportunity to share research and ideas with students from other universities across Great Britain.
“I’m excited to go to London and see what MPs think of the project,” said Florence.
“I hope they see some value in it and are interested in infant feeding as a social issue. I hope that people will see from the results that women need lots of sensitive support after having their babies and that they learn something about mothers’ experiences by reading my poster.
“SURE was a really valuable experience and I would recommend it to any student with a desire to learn more about the social world. The experience of carrying out your own research project is a rare opportunity and can open doors to other things.”
Dr Andrea Wigfield, Florence’s supervisor, commented: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Florence and very well deserved. She worked really hard on her SURE project, which covered an important and topical issue looking at perceptions and experiences of breastfeeding.”