Support needs of breast-feeding women: views of Australian midwives and health nurses

Gayle McLelland, Helen Hall, Carole Gilmour, Robyn Patricia Cant

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OBJECTIVE: to explore the views of midwives and maternal-child health nurses regarding factors that influence breast feeding initiation and continuation, focusing on how support for women could be improved to increase breast feeding duration.
DESIGN:a focus group study.
SETTING: hospital or domiciliary (home-visiting) midwives and community-based maternal and child health (MCH) nurses in one region of Victoria, Australia.
METHODS: twelve MCH nurses and five midwives who provided supportive services to women in the immediate postnatal period attended one of three audio-recorded focus groups. Thematic findings were identified.
FINDINGS: four key themes were: 'Guiding women over breast-feeding hurdles', 'Timing, and time to care'; 'Continuity of women's care' and 'Imparting professional knowledge'. Given the a pattern of hospital discharge of mother and infant on day one or day two after birth, participants thought the timing of immediate postnatal breast-feeding support was critical to enable women to initiate and continue breast feeding. Community-based MCH nurses reported time gaps in uptake of new mother referrals and time-pressured face-to-face consultations. Both groups perceived barriers to continuity of women's care.
CONCLUSIONS: health services subscribe to the Baby Friendly Health Initiative and government policies which support breast feeding, however providers described time pressures and a lack of continuity of women's care, including during transition from hospital to community services.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: there is a need to examine administration of service delivery and how domiciliary and community nurses can collaborate to establish and maintain supportive relationships with breast feeding women.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1-e6
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015


  • Baby Friendly Health Initiative
  • Breast feeding
  • Health policy
  • Continuity of care

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