Lactation After Infant Death

Image Source: Mark Manger

Project Summary

Breastfeeding and human milk banking has attracted a lot of research and public health attention over recent years. However, a mother’s lactation when no living infant is present in her life is often overlooked. Every year in Australia, almost 3500 women will experience lactation after infant death. Without appropriate support, this can be an unwelcome and distressing experience that can threaten women’s physical health and psychosocial wellbeing. However, pilot research reveals for some women, sustaining lactation or donating breast milk after infant death can be a positive experience.

This ARC Discovery project aims to explore bereaved women’s lactation experiences - including the factors that influence their decision to suppress, express or donate breastmilk. The study draws together the fields of loss and grief, tissue donation and the sociology of motherhood, with a view to improving contemporary policies and practices relating to lactation healthcare delivery in maternity, bereavement and milk banking services in Australia.

Featured Interview

To learn more about the study:

Read this feature article in ANU Reporter from March 2019; or

Listen to an interview with Chief Investigator Dr Katherine Carroll.

This project is funded by the Australian Research Council: Discovery grant number: DP180100517.

Updated:  14 November 2018/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications