Background: Breastfeeding rates in Ireland are among the lowest in Europe. Breastfeeding groups can provide support, information, and friendship for women. However, there is little research exploring community breastfeeding groups led by Public Health Nurses providing universal maternal and child care to all postnatal mothers in the community in Ireland.
Aim: The aim of this study was to explore breastfeeding women's experiences of a Public Health Nurse led support group.
Methods: A qualitative descriptive design to explore women's experiences of a community breastfeeding support group was conducted. Data were collected using one to one interviews with breastfeeding women (n = 7) in a primary healthcare setting. Transcripts were analysed using Burnard's thematic content analysis.
Results: The overall theme identified was 'normalising breastfeeding' which emerged from the subthemes 'socialising and sharing', 'information and support seeking', 'building confidence', 'overcoming embarrassment', 'negative perceptions of others', and 'promoting breastfeeding to others'.
Discussion: Women who attended the PHN led breastfeeding support group found it to be a cocoon of 'normality', whereas breastfeeding was considered almost something to be ashamed of in other circumstances. Many women attributed their success with breastfeeding to the support group.
Conclusion: Facilitating a sense of normalcy for breastfeeding women at individual, community and societal levels was essential in promoting breastfeeding. The community support group was influential in normalising breastfeeding for a sample of women, by minimising the potential for embarrassment, promoting social interaction and sharing, building confidence and knowledge. This buffered the effects of negative attitudes of others and personal feelings of shame. (C) 2016 Australian College of Midwives. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.