Early breastfeeding support for first-time UK mothers: Study based on video diaries

Authors: Taylor, A., Ryan, K., Alexander, J. and van Teijlingen, E.

Conference: 31st ICM Congress Midwives making a difference in the world

Dates: 18-22 June 2017

Journal: http://www.midwives2017.org/scientific-programme

Place of Publication: The Hague, the Netherlands


Background: Growing evidence consistently demonstrates that maternal and infant mortality and morbidity are reduced by breastfeeding and yet breastfeeding rates in the UK are poor (Rollins et al. 2016).

Purpose/Objective: This qualitative UK study explored the everyday experiences of first-time breastfeeding mothers in the early weeks. Method: A purposeful sampling method was used to recruit five mothers who were breastfeeding their first full term healthy baby. Using camcorders, they recorded their real-time experiences of breastfeeding in video diaries, until they perceived their infant feeding was established. To ensure the audio-visual elements of the video were analysed effectively, a multi-dimensional approach involving thematic analysis was developed. NHS Research Ethics Committee approved the study.

Key Findings: The daily support conundrum mothers faced was a major theme. Subthemes included mothers’ experiences of the healthcare services when they felt caught up in medicalised surveillance. At best they felt reassured of being on the right track, at worst it sabotaged breastfeeding because they felt professionals victimised them through perceived authoritarian, didactic, disrespectful approaches to care. Subthemes also included how mothers managed support from family and friends including when they felt nurtured, when well-meaning support that was intended to help them find a new equilibrium compromised breastfeeding, and when opinions appeared to deliberately interfere with breastfeeding. Findings will be illustrated with video clips.

Discussion: Practice Implications: Midwifery education needs to focus more on practical support and communication strategies to prepare practitioners to sit alongside breastfeeding mothers without them feeling watched, judged, or manhandled. Midwives need to work with partners and families to prepare them for the realities of breastfeeding, developing practical strategies that build confidence and do not take them away from their babies. Future research needs to explore how relationship-based support can be provided by professionalism that is not driven by monitoring.

Supported by Bournemouth University & Iolanthe Midwifery Trust.

References: Rollins, N. C., Bhandari, N., Hajeebhoy, N., Horton, S., Lutter, C. K., Martines, J. C., Piwoz, E. G., Richter, L. M., and Victora, C. G., 2016. Why invest, and what it will take to improve breastfeeding practices? The Lancet [online], 387 (10017), 491–504.

Source: Manual