The development of a new breast feeding assessment tool and the relationship with breast feeding self-efficacy

Midwifery. 2015 Jan;31(1):132-7. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2014.07.001. Epub 2014 Jul 14.


Objective: to develop a breast feeding assessment tool to facilitate improved targeting of optimum positioning and attachment advice and to describe the changes seen following the release of a tongue-tie.

Design: development and validation of the Bristol Breastfeeding Assessment Tool (BBAT) and correlation with breast feeding self-efficacy.

Setting: maternity hospital in South West England.

Participants: 218 breast feeds (160 mother-infant dyads); seven midwife assessors.

Findings: the tool has more explanation than other tools to remind those supporting breast-feeding women about the components of an efficient breast feed. There was good internal reliability for the final 4-item BBAT (Cronbach's alpha=0.668) and the midwives who used it showed a high correlation in the consistency of its use (ICC=0.782). Midwives were able to score a breast feed consistently using the BBAT and felt that it helped them with advice to mothers about improving positioning and attachment to make breast feeding less painful, particularly with a tongue-tied infant. The tool showed strong correlation with breast feeding self-efficacy, indicating that more efficient breast feeding technique is associated with increased confidence in breast feeding an infant.

Conclusions: the BBAT is a concise breast feeding assessment tool facilitating accurate, rapid breast feeding appraisal, and targeting breast feeding advice to mothers acquiring early breast feeding skills or for those experiencing problems with an older infant. Accurate assessment is essential to ensure enhanced breast feeding efficiency and increased maternal self-confidence.

Implications for practice: the BBAT could be used both clinically and in research to target advice to improve breast feeding efficacy. Further research is needed to establish its wider usefulness.

Keywords: Breast feeding; Bristol Breastfeeding Assessment Tool; Frenotomy; Self-efficacy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding / methods
  • Breast Feeding / psychology*
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Postnatal Care / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self Efficacy
  • Self-Assessment*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult