What Do Women Really Want? Lessons for Breastfeeding Promotion and Education

Breastfeed Med. 2016 Apr;11:102-10. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2015.0175.


Background: Promoting breastfeeding is a strategic priority, but breastfeeding rates remain low in the United Kingdom. Women value breastfeeding promotion and education, but a different strategy may be needed to continue to raise breastfeeding rates. New mothers, as the experts, are best placed to inform these changes. The current study explored new mothers' attitudes toward breastfeeding education and promotion, evaluating experiences and examining ideas for change.

Materials and methods: One thousand one hundred thirty mothers with a baby aged 0-2 years old who had planned to breastfeed at birth completed a questionnaire consisting of both closed and open-ended questions exploring their attitudes to breastfeeding promotion and support.

Results: Overall, the findings showed that mothers valued breastfeeding information, but believed that changes needed to be made to current messages. Key themes included a move away from the perception that breastfeeding is best (rather than normal), emphasis on wider values other than the health benefits of breastfeeding, and a message that every feed, rather than just 6 months exclusive breastfeeding, matters. Mothers also highlighted the need for promotion and education to target family members and wider society rather than simply mothers themselves, all of whom influenced both directly or indirectly maternal decision and ability to breastfeed. Mothers suggested ideas for promotional campaigns or how specific groups or methods could be used to increase support, including education for children, TV adverts, and using established online sources of breastfeeding information.

Conclusions: The findings are important both for those supporting new mothers to breastfeed and those involved in breastfeeding policy and promotional messages.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Health Education
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mothers*
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Patient Preference*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom