Swansea University academic to present to Westminster group

A Swansea University academic will present her research at the House of Commons tomorrow to a cross-party group of Westminster MPs and peers looking at the issue of breastfeeding in the UK.

Dr Amy BrownDr Amy Brown, from the Department of Public Health, Policy and Social Sciences at the College of Human and Health Sciences will share her research on breastfeeding education with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Infant Feeding and Inequalities.

Her research  which was published in Breastfeeding Medicine has found that many new mothers feel unprepared to breastfeed and are frustrated at their experiences. Her study has explored what breastfeeding education and promotion mothers really want, by asking over 1200 mothers with a baby aged 0 – 2 years old who had ever breastfed what messages helped them to breastfed and what was missing or was less useful.

The findings showed that although mothers really wanted breastfeeding education and to see breastfeeding promoted, less than 20% believed current approaches were useful.

She found that overall there were three key changes proposed:

  • To stop referring to breastfeeding as best and to move away from purely health based promotion, instead focusing on wider experiences, or simply that breastfeeding was what the majority of women wanted to do. 
  • For breastfeeding education to be more realistic including consideration of what it was really like to breastfeed and strategies to overcome any barriers that might be faced.
  • For education and promotion to move away from focusing solely on the mother, and instead to target partners, family and wider society. Mothers felt that they were more than aware that breastfeeding was the first choice for their babies, but were often faced with pressures to stop, or ignorant attitudes from those around them. Instead, if those around them supported them, they felt that they would be better placed to overcome any challenges they faced. One idea for this included a breastfeeding advert, designed to raise awareness of the importance of breastfeeding and the need for societal support.

Speaking ahead of her presentation Dr Brown said: “I was amazed by the enthusiasm for this study, with over 1100 mothers completing the survey in only a few days. It was clear that mothers wanted change and I believe we must listen to them, after all they are the experts when it comes to knowing what does and does not help them.

The research entitled ‘What do women really want? Lessons for breastfeeding education and promotion’ is now published in Breastfeeding Medicine.