Breastfeeding Peer Support In Rural New Zealand: The Views Of Peer Supporters

Authors Raewyn Johnson, Pauline Ansley, Fiona Doolan-Noble, Erin Turley, Tim Stokes have published this article in the Journal of Primary Health Care 9(2) 173-177

BACKGROUND: New Zealand (NZ) has a high rate of breastfeeding initiation, declining sharply during the first six months. Although there is a range of support available to breastfeeding mothers, access can be problematic in rural areas. To extend the accessibility of breastfeeding support to rural women, a Primary Health Organisation established a breastfeeding peer supporters (BPS) programme (Mum4Mum – M4M).

OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study was to gain an understanding of the impact of the BPS training programme on participants, as well as understanding how they utilised the information, both personally and in their communities.

METHODS: All women who had completed the M4M training and for whom current contact details were available were contacted and invited to complete an online survey. The text data contained in returned surveys was collated and analysed using a general inductive thematic approach.

RESULTS: Forty-one out of 100 BPS graduates completed the survey. Five key themes emerged from the qualitative analysis: knowledge gained and shared; increased confidence; role of peer support; acceptance; personal satisfaction.

CONCLUSION: The M4M programme improved the personal knowledge and skills of participants and enhanced confidence in breastfeeding ability, which in turn empowered responding participants to successfully support other women to breastfeed in their communities. As a consequence, respondents reported experiencing a heightened sense of personal satisfaction. Furthermore, the initiative successfully established a network of BPS across a sparsely populated rural area of NZ.