Despite significant public health benefits, breastfeeding for six months continues to be challenging for women.
In the Mid North of South Australia, healthcare professionals were concerned that breastfeeding rates were lower than the national average and that a collaborative approach was needed to promote breastfeeding.
To explore the experiences of women and health professional in the Mid North, to inform interventions to improve breastfeeding longevity.
Two focus groups were conducted to examine breastfeeding experience in the region. Focus group one included nine mothers who had breastfed more than six months and focus group two consisted of ten health professionals from the Mid North. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data.
Two overarching themes were identified; ‘breastfeeding: It’s more than just luck’ represented the voices of the mothers and ‘breastfeeding: It’s everybody’s business’ captured the discussion between the health professionals. Women described themselves as lucky while acknowledging that their own persistence, as well as positive support was vital. Health professionals identified education and support as key foci, and a need for a holistic approach to improve breastfeeding rates.
Breastfeeding should be understood as a relationship, in which broadly applied solutions do not necessarily influence longevity, particularly in rural communities. Strategies should also reflect a realistic picture of breastfeeding and safeguard against idealistic expectation of the experience.
A holistic approach to improve breastfeeding rates is imperative. One of the most promising antidotes to the breastfeeding dilemma is the provision of midwifery continuity of care.
McKellar, L., Fleet, J., & Dove, S. (2018). It’s more than just luck: A qualitative exploration of breastfeeding in rural Australia. Women and Birth, 31(3), 177-183. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wombi.2017.09.005