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Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Publication details for Prof Helen L. Ball

Klingaman, K. & Ball, H. (2007). Anthropology of caesarean section birth and breastfeeding: Rationale for evolutionary medicine on the postnatal ward. Durham Anthropology Journal 14(1).

Author(s) from Durham


Investigating biology and behaviour in the context of evolution enables the public, scientists and medical professionals to better understand the impact of particular medical care on human physiology and emotions. Evolutionary medicine is a useful starting point because recognition of the possible mismatches between an individual’s predisposition to interact a certain way and the environment in which he or she is found can lead to practical improvements. Human parturition and postnatal care are salient examples of how culturally constructed beliefs can inhibit appropriate somatic and psychological support. Our research examines birth events, feeding strategies and the attitudes underlying them in order to better understand how modes of delivery and postnatal arrangements affect breastfeeding outcomes, maternal satisfaction and safety.


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Ball, HL 2006. Bed-sharing on the post-natal ward: breastfeeding and infant sleep safety. Paediatrics and Child Health 11: in press.
Ball, HL and KP Klingaman (in press) Breastfeeding and mother-infant sleep proximity: implications for infant care. in Trevathan, WR, Smith, EO and JJ McKenna (Eds). Evolutionary medicine. 2nd Edition. Oxford University Press: Oxford.
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