Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > ‘Off to the best start’?

Electronic data

  • Off to the best start - final version

    Accepted author manuscript, 10.1 MB, Word document

    Available under license: CC BY-NC: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License


Text available via DOI:

View graph of relations

‘Off to the best start’?: A multimodal critique of breast and formula feeding health promotional discourse

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>20/12/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Gender and Language
Issue number3
Number of pages24
Pages (from-to)340-363
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This study critically examines the multimodal discourses of baby-feeding practices in contemporary health promotion in the UK. Comparing two parallel texts from the ongoing Start4life campaign (one dedicated to breastfeeding, the other to bottle/formula feeding), our multimodal critical discourse analysis identifies a series of recurring, multisemiotic strategies through which these texts aim to promote breastfeeding as the most desirable, natural and even morally responsible method of infant nutrition. These discursive strategies, we argue, are underpinned and driven by neoliberal assumptions about infant feeding, health and risk, which fail to take into account the structural constraints that affect the take-up of the ‘ideal’ of breastfeeding, all the while propagating unobtainable and often contradictory notions of total motherhood and familial relations - discursive moves that can have negative consequences for the health and wellbeing of new mothers and their infants.

Bibliographic note

©2016, Equinox publishing