Journal of Primary Health Care Journal of Primary Health Care Society
Journal of The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners
RESEARCH ARTICLE (Open Access)

Breastfeeding peer support in rural New Zealand: the views of peer supporters

Raewyn Johnson 1 , Pauline Ansley 1 , Fiona Doolan-Noble 2 , Erin Turley 1 , Tim Stokes 2
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

1 West Coast Primary Health Organisation, Greymouth, New Zealand

2 Department of General Practice and Rural Health, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Correspondence to: Raewyn Johnson, Lactation Consultant and Breastfeeding Advocate, West Coast Primary Health Organisation, PO Box 544, Greymouth 7805, New Zealand. Email: raewyn.johnson@westcoastpho.org.nz

Journal of Primary Health Care 9(2) 173-177 https://doi.org/10.1071/HC16027
Published: 9 June 2017

Journal Compilation © Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners 2017.
This is an open access article licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Abstract

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.

KEYWORDS: Breastfeeding peer support; Mum4Mum (M4M) programme; rural primary health; informal; accessibility; role models; enhanced knowledge; confidence; satisfaction


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