A mixed methods evaluation of a Canterbury Breast Feeding Support Service : examining the impact of the Waitaha Primary Health Baby Feeding Service on individual breastfeeding experience, maternal wellbeing and bonding/attachment. (2021)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Degree NameMaster of Arts
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
Research has evidenced the nutritional, health and wellbeing benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby in producing best outcomes in comparison to alternatives such as formula. Officially, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends six months exclusive breastfeeding in order to achieve optimal developmental outcomes. In New Zealand, the Ministry of Health (MOH) also follows these recommendations and has set targets in line with those of those of the WHO. However, internationally and nationally, the actual exclusive breastfeeding, and any breastfeeding rates fall short of that outlined by the WHO and the MOH. Research examining the factors involved in the low rates of breastfeeding maintenance has found that the individual breastfeeding experience, and the decision to cease breastfeeding, is complex and multifactorial. Further to this, difficulties with breastfeeding have been found to have the potential to negatively impact the psychological wellbeing of both mother and infant. Accordingly, breastfeeding maintenance and wellbeing support services have been created at a global and national level to improve breastfeeding rates and enhance maternal/infant wellbeing. This thesis examines the impact of a Baby Feeding Service, provided in Canterbury by Waitaha Primary Health, using a mixed methods single-case experimental design to examine individual experience of breastfeeding and outcomes of engagement with the service. Repeated measures over a 6- week period and follow-up interviews collected individual data on breastfeeding difficulty, confidence, wellbeing and attachment, which were examined at the individual and group levels. Findings were mixed in terms of the direct impact of the service on measures and breastfeeding maintenance. Previous breastfeeding experience/exposure potentially influenced outcomes, suggesting there is an increased need for breastfeeding support antenatally. However, all participants had experienced significant distress early post-birth and reported their engagement with the service as a positive and reassuring.
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