A conceptual understanding of the factors that influence breastfeeding cessation

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Background. Repeated infant feeding surveys have indicated that, while there is an apparent willingness to initiate breastfeeding, rates of breastfeeding at three and six months fall well below targets. There is general agreement about the need to explore the benefits of interventions including public health programmes, clinical support and local interventions.
Aim. This study set out to better understand the views of three key breastfeeding stakeholders: women, partners and midwives. Specifically, it aimed to understand to what extent, if at all, the views of the three groups differ, and how much importance the key stakeholders place on different elements of the breastfeeding experience.
Method. Concept mapping is a mixed method which uses structured focus group activities where ideas are brainstormed, organised and rated. The relationships between ideas are then explored using a sophisticated multivariate statistical analysis software package. The numbers of focus group participants was: seven midwives, seven women and five partners. Full ethical approval was gained from Norfolk Research Ethics Committee.
Analysis. Ariadne software generated mean preferences for each individual stakeholder group, and produced concept maps to demonstrate the relationship between statements.
Findings. Six key themes emerged when statements from the whole group of participants were clustered: the physicality and unpredictability of breastfeeding; shared experience of breastfeeding; role of health professionals; lack of skin-to-skin contact at birth; external influences; lack of available breastfeeding resources in the community. However, in the individual groups, different priorities emerged. Partners of breastfeeding women created a separate cluster of statements that related to their own needs. The influence of health professionals rated lower for women and their partners than for the group of midwives.
Implications. The emotional impact for women of breastfeeding rated more highly than the physicality or external influences and suggests that breastfeeding motivation arises from a complex personal experience that is unique to individual women.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-87
Number of pages7
JournalEvidence Based Midwifery
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 18 Sep 2013

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