Emmott, E. H, Page, A. E. & Myers, S. (2020) Typologies of postnatal support and breastfeeding at two months in the UK. Social Science and Medicine, 246: 112791. doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2020.112791.
There is extensive evidence to suggest that social support improves breastfeeding outcomes. Building on this evidence-base, public health services and interventions aiming to improve breastfeeding rates have primarily targeted informational and emotional support to mothers, reflecting an individual behaviour-change approach. However, mothers exist within a wider social network, and the characteristics of their broader support networks may be an important predictor of breastfeeding outcomes. Here we explore the typologies of postnatal support for mothers in the UK; a population with one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in Europe. Using retrospective data from an online survey (data collection period December 2017 - February 2018), we carry out a latent class regression (n = 432) to identify “clusters” of postnatal support in our data. Mothers in our sample were most likely to report receiving practical and emotional support from partners and maternal grandmothers, and breastfeeding information from health professionals. We identify three distinct typologies of postnatal support:
Overall, our results hint at the potential value for health professionals to engage with wider family in order to achieve extensive support for mothers.