Adolescent mothers and breastfeeding: experiences and support needs--an exploratory study

J Hum Lact. 2003 Nov;19(4):391-401. doi: 10.1177/0890334403257562.


The experiences and support needs of adolescent mothers who commenced breastfeeding were elicited using focus groups and in-depth semistructured interviews. The study took place in the North West of England, UK. The qualitative data were analyzed using thematic networks analysis. Five themes related to experiences emerged: feeling watched and judged, lacking confidence, tiredness, discomfort, and sharing accountability. A further 5 themes were developed to describe the adolescents' support needs: emotional support, esteem support, instrumental support, informational support, and network support. These forms of support were most effective when provided together in a synergistic way and within a trusting relationship. Key supporters identified were the mother's mother, the partner, and the midwife employed in a teenage pregnancy coordinator role. Health professionals need to further explore the ways in which relationships may be developed and sustained that provide the range of support required by adolescent mothers to enable them to continue breastfeeding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding / psychology*
  • England
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Social Support*
  • Time Factors