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Breast-feeding support in Ireland: a qualitative study of health-care professionals’ and women’s views

  • Barbara Whelan (a1) and John M Kearney (a2)

Abstract

Objective

To examine women’s experience of professional support for breast-feeding and health-care professionals’ experience of providing support.

Design

We conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews among women with experience of breast-feeding and health-care professionals with infant feeding roles. Interviews with women were designed to explore their experience of support for breast-feeding antenatally, in hospital and postnatally. Interviews with health-care professionals were designed to explore their views on their role and experience in providing breast-feeding support. Interview transcripts were analysed using content analysis and aspects of Grounded Theory. Overarching themes and categories within the two sets were identified.

Setting

Urban and suburban areas of North Dublin, Ireland.

Subjects

Twenty-two women all of whom had experience of breast-feeding and fifty-eight health-care professionals.

Results

Two overarching themes emerged and in each of these a number of categories were developed: theme 1, facilitators to breast-feeding support, within which being facilitated to breast-feed, having the right person at the right time, being discerning and breast-feeding support groups were discussed; and theme 2, barriers to breast-feeding support, within which time, conflicting information, medicalisation of breast-feeding and the role of health-care professionals in providing support for breast-feeding were discussed.

Conclusions

Breast-feeding is being placed within a medical model of care in Ireland which is dependent on health-care professionals. There is a need for training around breast-feeding for all health-care professionals; however, they are limited in their support due to external barriers such as lack of time. Alternative support such as peer support workers should be provided.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

* Corresponding author: Email b.whelan@sheffield.ac.uk

References

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Keywords

Breast-feeding support in Ireland: a qualitative study of health-care professionals’ and women’s views

  • Barbara Whelan (a1) and John M Kearney (a2)

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