Aiken A, Thomson G Professionalisation of a breastfeeding peer support service: issues and experiences of peer supporters. Midwifery. 2013; 29:(12)e145-151

Bion W Second Thoughts.London: Karnac; 1959

Braun V, Clarke V Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitatative Research in Psychology. 2006; 3:(2)77-101

Brazleton T, Koslowski B, Main M The origins of reciprocity: the early mother-infant interaction. In: Lewis M, Rosenblum L (eds). New York: John Wiley and Sons;

Clary EG, Snyder M, Ridge RD, Copeland J, Stukas AA, Haugen J, Miene P Understanding and assessing the motivations of volunteers: A functional approach. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1998; 74:(6)1516-30

Solihull Approach Awareness Workshop. 2015. (accessed 28 September 2017)

Curtis P, Woodhill R, Stapleton H The peer-professional interface in a community-based, breast feeding peer-support project. Midwifery. 2007; 23:(2)146-56

Dennis CL, Hodnett E, Gallop R, Chalmers B The effect of peer support on breastfeeding duration among primiparous women: a randomized controlled trial. CMAJ. 2002; 166:(1)21-8

Dwiggins-Beeler R, Spitzberg B, Roesch S Vectors of volunteerism: correlates of volunteer retention, recruitment, and job satisfaction. Journal of Psychological Issues in Organizational Culture. 2011; 2:(3)22-43

Dyson L, Renfrew M, McFadden A, McCormick F, Herbert G, Thomas J Promotion of breastfeeding initiation and duration: Evidence into practice briefing.London: NICE; 2006

Hopper H, Skirton H Factors influencing the sustainability of volunteer peer support for breastfeeding mothers within a hospital environment: an exploratory qualitative study. Midwifery. 2016; 32:58-65

Moore T, Adams M, Pratt R A service evaluation of the Solihull Approach training and practice. Community Pract. 2013; 86:(5)26-9

Muller C, Newburn M, Wise P, Dodds R, Bhavnani V NCT breastfeeding peer support project.London: NCT; 2009

Ottmann J Service research project: the experiences of a multi-disciplinary team in using the Solihull approach: exploring whether training in the Solihull approach changes practice.Norwich: Department of Psychological Sciences, University of East Anglia;

Pavlov IP Conditioned Reflexes.New York: Oxford University Press; 1927

Skinner BF The Behavior of Organisms: An Experimental Analysis.New York: Appleton-Century; 1938

Solihull approach trainers pack: for training care professionals working with infants, children and young people.Cambridge: Jill Rogers Associates Ltd; 2006

Solihull approach resource pack: The first five years, 5th edn. Cambridge: Jill Rogers Associates; 2006

Whitehead RE, Douglas H Health Visitors' experiences of using the Solihull approach. Community Pract. 2005; 78:(1)20-3

Vecina ML, Fernando C Volunteering and well-being is pleasure-based rather than pressure-based prosocial motivation that which is related to positive effects. Journal of Applied Social Psychology. 2013; 43:(4)870-8

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

02 October 2017
Volume 25 · Issue 10



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


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.


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.


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.


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).

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting British Journal of Midwifery and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for midwives. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to our clinical or professional articles

  • New content and clinical newsletter updates each month