Exploring the use and experience of an infant feeding genogram to facilitate an assets-based approach to support infant feeding

Gill Thomson, Jenny Ingram, Joanne Clarke, Debbie Johnson, Heather Trickey, Stephan U Dombrowski, Pat Hoddinott, Kirsty Darwent, Kate Jolly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: A lack of perceived social support influences women’s infant feeding behaviours. The Infant Feeding Genogram is a visual co-constructed diagram which details people/services that can provide support to women and can facilitate a connection between mothers and their existing assets landscape. The aim of this study is to explore women’s and infant feeding helpers’ experiences and use of an infant feeding genogram delivered to the intervention group of the “Assets-based infant feeding help Before and After birth (ABA)” randomised feasibility trial.
Methods: 103 primiparous mothers aged 16+ years were recruited to the trial (trial registration number ISRCTN ISRCTN14760978) in two sites (Site A and Site B) with low breastfeeding prevalence in the UK. Infant feeding helpers (IFHs) co-constructed a genogram at the first antenatal meeting for the intervention group (n=50), and then provided proactive, woman-centered support from ~32 weeks gestation to up to 5 months postnatal. Infant feeding helpers and women’s experiences of the infant feeding genogram were collected via interviews or focus groups. Completed genograms were shared with researchers. Content analysis of the genograms and qualitative data from the interviews and focus groups were analysed thematically.
Results: Data comprised 32 completed genograms, and qualitative insights from all 13 infant feeding helpers (two focus groups; 4 interviews) and interviews with a purposive sample of 21 of 50 intervention group women between 4-21 weeks after birth. Content analysis of the genograms highlighted variations, with more personal, individualised genograms completed at Site B compared to Site A. The perceived impact of the genogram was related to the IFHs’ application of the tool. The genogram was either used as intended to raise women’s awareness of available assets and motivate help-seeking behaviour, or as a data collection tool with limited perceived utility. Negative and positive unintended consequences of genogram use were highlighted.
Conclusions: The genogram has the potential to offer a woman, family and community-centred approach that focusses on building assets for infant feeding. However, variations in genogram application indicate that revised training is required to clarify the purpose and ensure it is used as intended.

breast feeding, bottle feeding, social support, women, assets based, genogram, infant feeding.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC pregnancy and childbirth
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 9 Sept 2020


  • breast feeding
  • bottle feeding
  • social support
  • women
  • assets based
  • genogram
  • infant feeding


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