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Effect of obstacles/tips card on breastfeeding drop-off

02 September 2021
10 min read
Volume 29 · Issue 9

Abstract

Background

Many mothers report having stopped breastfeeding sooner than they would have liked.

Aim

We test whether a planning card reduces breastfeeding drop-off.

Method

We recruited 81 women who were at least 36 weeks pregnant at antenatal classes in Lothian, Scotland. By systematic assignment, participants received no card; an obstacles/tips card, which details common breastfeeding obstacles and tips to overcome them; or an enhanced obstacles/tips card, which additionally featured an intentions prompt on its reverse side. Between 10–14 days after the due date, we measured rates of exclusive and any breastfeeding.

Findings

On discharge, feeding methods were similar across all three groups. At 10-14 days, drop-off was four-fold higher in the control group than in either of the two card groups (p=0.026).

Conclusion

The obstacles/tips cards offer potential as a means to achieve reductions in breastfeeding drop-off.

Scotland has historically seen low rates of breastfeeding and the Scottish Government has identified breastfeeding initiation and maintenance as a public health priority (Scottish Government, 2018). In support of these goals, NHS Boards within Scotland have implemented the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative by revising policies and increasing training for midwives and health visitors to support breastfeeding (Broadfoot et al, 2005). Initiation rates have increased but maintenance remains a problem. The Scottish Government's Diet and Healthy Weight Delivery Plan sets out a commitment to reduce drop-off in breastfeeding rates at 6–8 weeks after birth by 10% by 2025 (Scottish Government, 2018). Of babies born in 2017–2018, breastfeeding was initiated in 64% of cases but at the 6–8 week follow-up, just 41% continued to receive any breastmilk (ISD, 2018). Despite its substantial commitment to breastfeeding, high rates of breastfeeding drop-off remain a stubborn problem in Scotland.

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