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Women’s advice to healthcare professionals regarding breastfeeding: “offer sensitive individualized breastfeeding support”- an interview study

  • Blixt, Ingrid1, 2
  • Johansson, Margareta1
  • Hildingsson, Ingegerd1
  • Papoutsi, Zoi1, 2
  • Rubertsson, Christine1, 3
  • 1 Uppsala University, Uppsala, 751 85, Sweden , Uppsala (Sweden)
  • 2 Uppsala University, Sveavägen entré 9 631 88, Eskilstuna, Sweden , Eskilstuna (Sweden)
  • 3 Lund University, Lund, Sweden , Lund (Sweden)
Published Article
International Breastfeeding Journal
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
Dec 16, 2019
DOI: 10.1186/s13006-019-0247-4
Springer Nature


BackgroundThe World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months followed by continued breastfeeding with complementary food up to 2 years of age or beyond. Few women achieve this recommendation in Sweden, and they often stop breastfeeding earlier than they would like. Investigating women’s advice to healthcare professionals is important for the provision of optimal breastfeeding support. The aim of this study was to explore women’s advice to healthcare professionals regarding support for continuing to breastfeed for at least 6 months.MethodsThis investigation used an exploratory study design, and a purposive sample of women was recruited between 2015 and 2016 through social media platforms. The work is a follow-up of an earlier study exploring women’s perceptions of the factors that assisted them in breastfeeding for at least 6 months. Telephone interviews were conducted with 139 Swedish women who reported that they had breastfed for at least 6 months. Women were asked the question, “Do you have any advice that you would like to give to healthcare professionals regarding breastfeeding support?”. The data were analysed using content analysis.ResultsThe theme, “Professionals need to offer women sensitive, individualized breastfeeding support to promote a positive breastfeeding experience”, describes the women’s advice based on five categories: 1) providing evidence-based care, 2) preparing expectant parents during pregnancy, 3) creating a respectful and mutual dialogue, 4) offering individual solutions to breastfeeding problems, and 5) offering practical support.ConclusionsThis study highlights the importance of professionals providing evidence-based breastfeeding support in a sensitive and individualized manner. This consideration is an important prerequisite to strengthening women’s self-confidence and assisting them in reaching their breastfeeding goals, which may enhance the positive nature of their breastfeeding experience.

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