Discourse and breastfeeding practice in urban communities in Indonesia: A Foucauldian perspective

  • Universitas Airlangga
  • Airlangga University
  • Airlangga University
Abstract views: 164992 , PDF downloads: 389
Deconstructing the breastmilk Discourse on the Practice of Breastfeeding in Urban Communities downloads: 0
Statement of Author downloads: 0
Keywords: breastfeeding mothers, breastfeeding practice and discourse, biopower


Breastfeeding coverage in Indonesia is under government target. Several works of literature illustrate that mothers in Indonesia face three classic problems. First, inadequate regulation to protect breastfeeding practices, second, the massive promotion of infant formula and breast-milk substitutes, and third, discrepancies in health services. This article aimed to explore the experiences of breastfeeding mothers and to relate it to broader discourse. The study was conducted in two metropolitan cities in Indonesia, Jakarta, and Surabaya. Both locations were chosen because the two cities share similar characteristics, namely urban communities with dense, heterogeneous populations and rapid changes. The study is a critical discourse analysis using the Foucauldian perspective to help examine the discourse and the social practices of breastfeeding. Data were collected with semi-structured interviews on 36 research subjects. The results confirmed that all subjects recognised the benefits of breastfeeding discourse. However, the practice of infant feeding was not always related to health recommendations. The study also found three issues concerning breastfeeding practice, namely: discourse on breastmilk and biopower, failed mothers, and mothers’ negotiation. The discourse on breastfeeding is recognised as a biopower discourse which is an extension of affected mothers’ identities. Mothers who fail to breastfeed feel guilt, frustration and shame. They tried to negotiate this condition by asking health workers for help and arguing that the identity of the mother is not only influenced by the practice of breastfeeding. Therefore, a constructive biopower discourse is needed to implement breastfeeding practices and discourses to normalise breastfeeding practices.

Author Biography

, Universitas Airlangga


Alianmoghaddam, N., Phibbs, S., & Benn, C. (2017). Resistance to breastfeeding: A Foucauldian analysis of breastfeeding support from health professionals. Women and Birth, 30(6), e281–e291.
Andrews, T., & Knaak, S. (2013). Medicalized mothering: Experiences with breastfeeding in Canada and Norway. The Sociological Review, 61(1), 88–110.
Aristiati, K., & Hamam, S. (2014). What Works to Improve Duration of Exclusive Breastfeeding : Lessons from the Exclusive Breastfeeding Promotion Program in Rural Indonesia.
ATNI. (2016). Access to Nutrition Index. Accesstonutrition.Org, Objectives.
BPS DKI Jakarta. (2019). Provinsi DKI Jakarta Dalam Angka 2019.
BPS Kota Surabaya. (2019). Kota Surabaya Dalam Angka 2019.
DINKES. (2015). Standar Emas Makanan Bayi – Dinas Kesehatan.
Fairclough, N. (2001). Critical Discourse Analysis as a Method in Social Scientific. In R. Wodak & M. Mayer (Eds.), Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis. SAGE Publications Sage UK: London, England.
Fikawati, S., & Syafiq, A. (n.d.). Hubungan antara menyusui segera (immediate breastfeeding) dan pemberian ASI eksklusif sampai dengan empat bulan.
Fikawati, S., Syafiq, A., Indonesia, D., Susu, A., Asi, I., & Pembahasan, H. (2010). Kajian implementasi dan kebijakan air susu ibu eksklusif dan inisiasi menyusu dini di indonesia pendahuluan. 14(1), 17–24.
Foucault, M. (2013). Foucault’s “history of sexuality Volume I, The will to knowledge.” In Foucault’s “History of Sexuality Volume I, The Will to Knowledge”: Vol. I.
Freire, M., & Stren, R. (2001). The Challenge of Urban Government Policies and Practices. The World Bank Institute; The Centre for Urban Community Studies of Toronto.
Friedman, M. (2009). For Whom is Breast Best? Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering, 11(1), 26.
Hanulan Septiani; Artha Budi; Karbito. (2017). Faktor-faktor yang berhubungan dengan Pemberian ASI Eksklusif Oleh Ibu Menyusui yang Bekerja Sebagai Tenaga Kesehatan. Aisyah Jurnal Ilmu Kesehatan, 2(2), 159–174.
Hidayana, I., Februhartanty, J., & Parady, V. A. (2017). Violations of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes : Indonesia context. 20(1), 165–173.
Holcomb, J. (2017). Resisting guilt: mothers’ breastfeeding intentions and formula use. Sociological Focus, 50(4), 361–374.
Hopkinson, J. M. (2007). Response to " Is Breast Really Best? Risk and Total Motherhood in the National Breast-Feeding Awareness Campaign " Journal of Health Politics Policy and Law Journal of Health Politics Policy and Law Published Journal of Health Politics Policy and Law, 32(4). https://doi.org/10.1215/03616878-2007-019
Jacky, M. (2015). Sosiologi konsep, teori, dan metode. Jakarta: Mitra Wacana Media.
Juniman, P. T. (2018). Angka Pemberian ASI Eksklusif di Indonesia Masih Rendah. In Www.Cnnindonesia.Com.
Larsen, J. S., & Kronborg, H. (2013). When breastfeeding is unsuccessful - mothers’ experiences after giving up breastfeeding. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 27(4), 848–856.
NABA. (1997). Breastmilk The Gold Standard.
Paramashanti, B. A., Hadi, H., & Gunawan, I. M. A. (2016). Timely initiation of breastfeeding is associated with the practice of exclusive breastfeeding in Indonesia. 25(December), 52–56.
Paxson, H. (2004). Making Modern Mothers: Ethics and Family Planning in Urban Greece. University of California Press.
Reid, A. (2017). Infant feeding and child health and survival in Derbyshire in the early twentieth century. Women’s Studies International Forum, 60, 111–119.
Símonardóttir, S., & Gíslason, I. V. (2018). When breast is not best: Opposing dominant discourses on breastfeeding. The Sociological Review, 66(3), 665–681.
Titaley, C. R., Loh, P. C., Prasetyo, S., & Ariawan, I. (2014). Socio-economic factors and use of maternal health services are associated with delayed initiation and non-exclusive breastfeeding in Indonesia : secondary analysis of Indonesia Demographic and Health Surveys 2002 / 2003 and 2007. 23(October 2013), 91–104.
Van Esterik, P. (1989). Beyond the breast-bottle controversy.
Waring, J., Latif, A., Boyd, M., Barber, N., & Elliott, R. (2016). Pastoral power in the community pharmacy: A Foucauldian analysis of services to promote patient adherence to new medicine use. Social Science & Medicine, 148, 123–130.
White, K. (2016). An introduction to the sociology of health and illness. Sage.
WHO. (1981). International Code of Marketing of World Health Organization. 180.
WHO. (2001a). Global strategy for infant and young child feeding. Fifthy-Fourth World Health Assembly, 1, 5.
WHO. (2001b). The Optimal Duration of Exclusive Breastfeeding: Report of An Expert Consultation. World Health Organization, March, 1–10.
WHO. (2014). Indonesia ’ s breastfeeding challenge is echoed the world over. 20414.
Wolf, J. B. (2007). Is breast really best? Risk and total motherhood in the National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign. Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, 32(4), 595–636.
World Health Organization. (2017). The International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes frequently asked questions. 1–11.
Zivku, S. (2016). Infant Feeding as Practice: The Formation of Total Motherhood Through Risk Culture Discourse. Taylor & Francis.
How to Cite
, , & . (2020). Discourse and breastfeeding practice in urban communities in Indonesia: A Foucauldian perspective. Jurnal Studi Komunikasi, 4(3), 597-613. https://doi.org/10.25139/jsk.v4i3.2452