Étudiante-chercheure étoile November 2014

Martina Chumova

PhD student in History
Université de Montréal

Award winning publication: a chapter in the Le guide pratique Mieux vivre avec notre enfant : témoin des discours et représentations autour de l'allaitement au Québec (1977-2013)

Published in: Les éditions du remue-ménage, 05 - 2014


"Beginning in 1980, the Mieux vivre avec son enfant parenting guide was given to all parents in Québec upon the birth of their child in an effort to provide them with information that was in line with medical consensus on topics including infant feeding and care. While, from a historical perspective, the guide is the ideal tool to trace the evolution of public health debates and early childhood cultural norms, very few researchers have taken an interest in it. Without disputing the fact that breastfeeding is a positive behaviour that leads to significant benefits to the health of populations, this research explores breastfeeding as a practice rooted in women's bodies and dependent on factors such as the ways women relate to themselves, social attitudes towards breastfeeding in public and working conditions for women."

In a time in which many voices have raised against promotional discourses focused solely on the transmission of scientific information on the health benefits of breast milk for the child, Martina Chumova's research aims to demonstrate the interplay of the cultural, economic and social factors that impact breastfeeding. The historical interest of her work stems from her analysis of successive editions of the Mieux vivre avec notre enfant parenting guide to gauge the changes in the discourse on breastfeeding in relation to the social norms of the time. The research also contributes to the health sector since it encourages advocates to shift the public health discourse on breastfeeding based on the current historical and cultural context.