Thomson G, Ebisch-Burton K, Flacking R Shame if you do—shame if you don't: women's experiences of infant feeding. Matern Child Nutr. 2014;

Gibson-Helm M, Teede H, Block A, Knight M, East C, Wallace EM, Boyle J Maternal health and pregnancy outcomes among women of refugee background from African countries: a retrospective, observational study in Australia. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2014; 14:(1)

Huberty J, Leiferman JA, Gold KJ, Rowedder L, Cacciatore J, Bonds McClain D Physical activity and depressive symptoms after stillbirth: informing future interventions. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2014; 14

Research roundup—January 2015

02 January 2015
Volume 23 · Issue 1


In this section, a range of brief synopses of recently published articles from around the world that may be of interest to midwives is presented. The aim of this roundup is to provide an overview, rather than a detailed summary, of the research papers selected. Should you wish to look at any of the papers in more detail, a full reference is provided.

Women's experiences of infant feeding

This study conducted at two primary care Trusts in the North West of England aimed to explore women's experiences, opinions and perceptions of their infant feeding experiences. Sixty three women took part in either a focus group (n=7 groups; 33 women) or individual semi-structured interviews (n=28). The majority of participants were classified as White British.

Some women reported intense distress at midwives handling their breasts when assisting them to breastfeed, one woman commented that she felt ‘mortified’ when the midwife did this in front of her partner. Women also felt anxious by the view of breastfeeding as ‘best’ and ‘natural’ and reported that health professionals were not open about the difficulties of breastfeeding. Women reported that they received little support with bottle-feeding and had feelings of guilt and inadequacy about stopping breastfeeding. Some women resorted to hiding the evidence of bottle-feeding from health professionals, as one woman reported: ‘I was in fear of telling the midwife’.

Women who did breastfeed in public reported being ‘stared at’ ‘frowned at’ ‘tutted at’ or asked to leave the premises. This study highlights how breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding mothers experience inadequate support, judgment and condemnation, which can lead to feelings of failure, inadequacy and isolation.

Pregnancy outcomes for migrant women

This retrospective observational study explored pregnancy outcomes for 2173 women migrant women of refugee and non-refugee backgrounds from three African regions living in Australia. It is known that women of refugee background from Africa have a greater risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes compared to women born in resettlement countries.

The study compared women born in humanitarian source countries (HSC) and non-HSC from North Africa (n=1361), Middle and East Africa (n=706) and West Africa (n=106). Migrant women of refugee background from different African regions appear to be at greater risk of specific adverse pregnancy outcomes compared to migrant women without a refugee background. The study includes differences and discussion on antenatal care, female genital mutilation, use of analgesia during labour, and caesarean section rates.

The study highlights the need for engagement with communities to improve early pregnancy care attendance Awareness of the differing risks and health needs of women will assist with the provision of appropriate pregnancy care to improve the health of African women and their babies.

Exercise benefits women following a stillbirth

In the US, approximately one in 110 pregnancies end in stillbirth—affecting more than 26 000 women annually. Women experiencing stillbirth have a threefold greater risk of developing depressive symptoms compared to women experiencing live birth. Depression contributes negatively to health outcomes for both mothers and babies subsequent to stillbirth. Physical activity may improve depression in these women, however, little is known about acceptable physical activity interventions for women after stillbirth.

Women between the ages of 19 and 45 who had experienced a stillbirth within 1 year were asked to complete an online survey. One hundred and seventy-five women took part in the study, of these 88% reported depression. Women reported that they took part in physical activity (at least 150 minutes of activity weekly) before (60%) and during (47%) their pregnancy, as well as after their stillbirth (61%). Only 37% were meeting current recommendations on exercise. Thirty-eight percent of women reported using physical activity to cope after experiencing a stillbirth, they did so to help with depression (58%), weight loss (55%) and overall physical health (52%). To cope with stillbirth, women used walking (67%), jogging (35%) and yoga (23%). Women who undertook physical activity after a stillbirth reported significantly lower depressive symptoms, compared to women who did not.

This study highlights the benefits of exercise and physical activity for women following a stillborn baby. However, additional research is required to determine which types of activity have a greater affect on depression following a stillbirth. BJM