The 'Earlybird' gets the breastmilk: Findings from an evaluation of combined professional and peer support groups to improve breastfeeding duration in the first eight weeks after birth

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Journal Article
Maternal and Child Nutrition, 2007, 3 (2), pp. 108 - 119
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Australia has high initiation rates of breastfeeding, but the challenges of establishing and maintaining breastfeeding in the first few months of infant life result in many women changing to artificial formula feeding. This paper reports on the impact of a new strategy to improve breastfeeding duration rates in the first 8 weeks post-partum. The Earlybird Program (EBP) combines the professional expertise of child and family health (C&FH) nurses with the expertise of the participating mothers to support each other in establishing breastfeeding in the first 8 weeks. This retrospective study compared the breastfeeding patterns of first-time mothers who attended the EBP, with the breastfeeding patterns of mothers who accessed individual appointments with the nurses in a 12-month period, and examined the predictors of continued breastfeeding at 8 weeks. The total sample comprised 193 infant records. Women who selected the EBP were more likely to be employed and less likely to be categorized as non-English speaking background. These women also had more visits to the C&FH service. Logistic regression was used to determine the factors associated with breastfeeding cessation at 8 weeks post-natal. After adjusting for variables, only exclusive breastfeeding at first visit and attending the EBP were significant predictors of continuing to breastfeed at 8 weeks. Facilitation skills that recognize the expertise of participating women were considered an important aspect of the programme. © 2007 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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