Describing the Phenomenon of Breastfeeding/Nursing Aversion and Agitation in Breastfeeding Mothers

Zainab M. Yate


Background: Breastfeeding aversion and agitation (BAA) while breastfeeding is anecdotally known to occur in some women who breastfeed while pregnant or those who tandem feed a newborn and a toddler. However, it is a little‑researched area and the paucity of published literature around BAA reveals a significant gap in the literature.

Materials and Methods: This study presents the findings and responses of 694 women who filled in an anonymous survey questionnaire that collected data on their basic demographics and their experiences with breastfeeding. It uses thematic and inductive content analysis, with qualitative interpretive description to present the findings.

 Results: The findings of this study shed light on an experienced phenomenon of aversion and agitation whilst breastfeeding, which varies in form, severity, and duration. It is characterised by feelings of anger or rage, a skin crawling  sensation and an urge to remove the suckling infant, but can also be feelings of agitation and irritability whilst the infant is latched. A number of mothers who experience aversion still continue to breastfeed, but have feelings of guilt and shame while also experiencing confusion around those feelings.

Conclusions: BAA is a phenomenon that occurs in some women who breastfeed, whereby breastfeeding triggers negative emotions. The reason women experience it is not clearly known. Research is needed to understand its cause, triggers, and strategies to minimise the experience in breastfeeding mothers.


Anger; breastfeeding; breastfeeding agitation; breastfeeding aversion; infant feeding; maternal health; nursing

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