First-time mother¿s experiences of professional breastfeeding support in the immediate postnatal period.
Aim: The aim of the study was to explore first-time mother¿s experiences of professional breastfeeding support in the immediate postnatal period, within the Irish hospital setting.
Background: Despite the available evidence, breastfeeding rates in Ireland have failed to reach recommended levels. With 45% of mothers¿ breastfeeding on discharge from hospital, many women are failing to establish breastfeeding at a time when professional breastfeeding support is at its strongest.
Research Method: Using a quantitative descriptive design data were collected by means of a 16-item questionnaire at 2-3 days postpartum from a convenience sample of 30 first time breastfeeding mothers. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics. Open questions were also used to elicit mothers¿ unique experiences.
Results: Sixty per cent of respondents were aged 25-34 years and the overwhelming majority of the women lived with their partner or husband. Maternal occupation fell into the higher social categories and the majority of respondents (87%) had completed university or third level education.
Findings revealed seventy per cent of mothers had reported high scores on the total support scale which indicated that they received high levels of breastfeeding support. The highest scores were in the dimensions of emotional and instrumental support. In the open ended questions mothers reported that they wanted individualised, person-centred and authentic support. Overall 77% of mothers indicated receiving hands-on support with breastfeeding. Midwives were identified as the main providers of breastfeeding support although the mothers had contact with other health care professionals.
Conclusion: First time mothers are in a vulnerable position in trying to establish breastfeeding. Midwives are ideally situated to provide mothers with the authentic types of support that they need.