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Exploring breastfeeding peer supporters' experiences of using the Solihull Approach model

02 October 2017
16 min read
Volume 25 · Issue 10

Abstract

Background:

The Solihull Approach is a model designed to support professionals, including breastfeeding peer supporters, to think about their work with children and families.

Aims

To gain insight into breastfeeding peer supporters' experiences of using the Solihull Approach by exploring breastfeeding peer supporters' motivation to volunteer, their experiences of peer supporter breastfeeding training, and their experiences of putting this training into practice. The study also sought to identify factors that could contribute to improving the service.

Methods

A qualitative study was undertaken with three voluntary and four paid peer supporters. Participants were interviewed using a semi-structured schedule and data were analysed using thematic analysis with an inductive approach.

Findings

Three key themes and their sub-themes emerged: motivation to volunteer, experience of being a peer supporter, and practical and personal applications of the Solihull Approach.

Conclusions

Several benefits have been highlighted when incorporating the Solihull Approach into peer professionals' practice, including increased confidence levels and improved team communication, as well as positive outcomes in their personal lives.

Peer support for breastfeeding mothers is defined by The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as:

‘Support offered by women who have themselves breastfed, are usually from similar socioeconomic backgrounds and locality to the women they are supporting, and who have received minimal training to support breastfeeding women.’

There are numerous factors that contribute to the initial motivation amongst volunteers (Clary et al, 1998). For some people, volunteering may meet a psychological need: volunteers may feel driven by their own personal values, such as altruism and humanitarianism. For others, motivation may come from a desire to build social relationships, to learn, to grow and develop psychologically, or to gain career-related experience (Clary et al, 1998). Further research conducted into the motivational factors of breastfeeding peer supporters found that personal values and a desire to build social relationships were the two key reasons for volunteering (Curtis et al, 2007; Aiken and Thomson, 2013).

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