Intersectional Stigma and Infant Feeding in Childbearing Women With Opioid Use Disorder

Kelly McGlothen-Bell, Lisa M. Cleveland, Becky Spencer, Allison D. Crawford, Sara L. Gill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Opioid use disorder (OUD) in childbearing women is a complex multilayered public health concern that creates increased vulnerability for affected women and infants, placing them at risk for stigmatization. The role of intersectional stigma is not well understood in the context of OUD and mothering; however, it may have implications for health-related behaviors such as infant feeding. The aim of this study was to understand how intersecting stigmas influence the infant feeding choices of childbearing women with OUD. Using an intersectional lens, this study highlights how multiple stigmas related to their diagnosis and role as mothers converge and affect decisions regarding infant feeding. We conducted a secondary analysis of semistructured individual interviews from 14 participants who were mothers of infants treated for Newborn OpioidWithdrawal Syndrome. The original study was a qualitative, multiple case study analysis of infant feeding experiences of mothers receiving medication for OUD. Interview data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Three overarching themes revealedmothers’ awareness of the stigma attached to mothering with OUD: (a) you have to go that extra mile, (b) everybody has their reasons, and (c) just do what you got to do. Themothers’ assignment of good mothering behaviors based on infant feeding choice further underscored their perceived stigma. Understanding the intersections between OUD-related stigma within the context of mothering may provide opportunities to better support infant feeding choices in childbearing women with OUD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-324
Number of pages10
JournalStigma and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 7 2022


  • infant feeding
  • intersectionality
  • mothering
  • opioid use disorder
  • stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Health Policy


Dive into the research topics of 'Intersectional Stigma and Infant Feeding in Childbearing Women With Opioid Use Disorder'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this