Despite the extraordinary benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child, the modern day woman faces numerous psychosocial barriers to breastfeeding, as well as emotional and physical challenges (Lawrence & Lawrence, 2011; US Department of Human Health & Safety, 2011). There is great potential for the development and improvement of apparel products for breastfeeding mothers. The purpose of this study was to determine the needs, preferences, and use of apparel products by breastfeeding mothers. Ultimately, by identifying user needs and design characteristics of breastfeeding apparel, this information can be used to design products that facilitate and encourage breastfeeding. Rosenblad-Wallin’s (1985) user-oriented product development (UPD) model was used to help guide the literature review and focus the research on principles of human factors. This study took a qualitative approach to research by collecting data through individual interviews, observation of the interview setting, analysis of the participants’ apparel, and field notes. The criteria for participant selection was that the mothers had given birth to a child within one year, were currently feeding their child breast milk (either through nursing or pumping) and were working mothers. An interpretive lens and grounded theory methods guided the data collection, as well as a rigorous analysis of data. The review of literature and the mothers in this study suggest that breastfeeding mothers use a variety of apparel products ranging from nursing bras to tank-tops to nursing covers. Themes that surfaced through the analysis of the data related to the functional and symbolic property needs within nursing products, the needs of breastfeeding apparel within working environments, and the specific value of nursing apparel within a nursing mothers’ life. The results of this study showed that the products available on the market for nursing mothers are not easy to use, do not adequately aide or alleviate breast and nipple pain, and do not allow the mother to achieve the flexible lifestyle they are accustomed to prior to breastfeeding. The data indicates that there is a real market for breastfeeding apparel and mothers are in need of better products. Design criteria were developed from themes that emerged through the careful analysis of the literature, the interviews, and design knowledge. Criteria were developed around the themes of ease-of-use, comfort, layering systems, ease of care, size and fit, and symbolic representation. The user-oriented design criteria developed within this research can guide designers towards successful breastfeeding apparel and products.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. November 2015. Major: Design, Housing and Apparel. Advisor: Elizabeth Bye. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 88 pages.
The Development of Design Requirements for Breastfeeding Apparel: A User-Oriented Product Development Approach.
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