Background: Implementation science looks at “what works, for whom, and in what circumstances,” to enable research uptake into practice.1 Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being at all ages is essential to sustainable development, as per Goal 3 of the United Nations Sustainable Goals 7, “Good Health and Wellbeing.”2
Exclusive breastfeeding rates in Ireland remain amongst the lowest in Europe3 despite its extensive health, environmental and economic benefits.4,5 This has been attributed to disjointed support and conflicting advice.6 This paper presents implementation science processes proposed to enhance exclusive breastfeeding for women and their partners.
Methods: This implementation research is underpinned by the revised version of the Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services (PARIHS) framework, called the integrated or i-PARIHS framework. 8 This approach serves to examine policy, environment, staff knowledge, and attitudes in relation to breastfeeding at an Irish maternity teaching hospital, associated General Practitioner, and primary care sites. Women and partners attending University Hospital Kerry Maternity Services for a booking appointment at twelve weeks gestation intending to breastfeed were recruited from October 2021.
Women completed a baseline survey package: the Prenatal Rating of Efficacy in Preparation to Breastfeed Scale, demographics and the Iowa Infant Feeding Attitude Scale (IIFAS). Partners completed the latter two questionnaires. Follow-up is ongoing at 36 weeks gestation, 6 weeks post-partum and three months post-partum. Data were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics.
Results: Results to date demonstrate that both women and partners exhibit a neutral attitude towards breastfeeding in early pregnancy. Women scored moderately highly in prenatal breastfeeding self-efficacy. Actions designed to support exclusive breastfeeding are coming directly from the Work Based Learning Groups (WBLG). All outputs from the WBLG constitute as data and will assist in the promoting sustainability of the intervention on completion of the study.
Conclusion: An implementation science approach to the improvement of breastfeeding supports for women, partners and infants will strengthen intervention acceptability and sustainability. This study will inform national policy and future breastfeeding interventions.