Healthcare professionals’ and mothers perceptions’ of factors that influence decision to breastfeed

Brown, A., Raynor, P., & Lee, M. (2011). Healthcare professionals’ and mothers’ perceptions of factors that influence decisions to breastfeed or formula feed infants: a comparative study. Journal of advanced nursing, 67(9), 1993-2003.


13713407_10157227030355253_675948095_nWhy do the research?

Low breastfeeding rates in the UK are due to complex psychological, social and cultural reasons. One reason often given is that breastfeeding support is hard to find, with women being let down by poor professional support. The aim of this research was to explore whether new mothers and professionals perceived breastfeeding challenges similarly or differently, and the lessons that could be learned from this.


Who took part?

Twenty health professionals who supported new mothers and twenty three mothers with a baby aged 6 – 12 months


What did they do?

Both took part in semi structured interviews. Mothers reflected on their experiences of feeding their baby and why they thought breastfeeding rates were low in the UK. Health professionals discussed their experience of supporting mothers to breastfeed, the difficulties mothers faced and the challenges they faced in supporting mothers to breastfeed.


What did we find?

Mothers discussed a wide range of influences on their infant feeding decisions, such as a lack of knowledge about how breastfeeding worked, poor support and not being able to get help with difficulties.

Responses from professionals echoed this, suggesting they had clear understanding of the challenges mothers faced. However professionals raised the issue of not having enough time or resources to be able to support breastfeeding fully.


What does this mean?

Breastfeeding rates in the UK are being affected by a lack of support and investment, making breastfeeding seem challenging for new mothers. Health professionals understand this but are powerless, as they have little time or resources to support new mothers well. Further investment and time is needed in breastfeeding support if we want rates to rise.


You can download a copy of the paper here Comparison of health professionals’ and mothers’ perceptions of factors that influence the decision to breast or bottle feed an infant