Women’s and peer supporters’ experiences of an assets-based peer support intervention for increasing breastfeeding initiation and continuation: a qualitative study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Jenny Ingram
  • Gill Thomson
  • Debbie Johnson
  • Heather Trickey
  • Pat Hoddinott
  • Stephan U Dombrowski

Colleges, School and Institutes


Background and context.
Breastfeeding peer support is valued by women, but UK trials have not demonstrated efficacy. The ABA feasibility trial offered pro-active peer support underpinned by behaviour change theory and an assets-based approach to women having their first baby, regardless of feeding intention. This paper explores women and infant feeding helpers’ (IFHs) views of the different components of the ABA intervention.

Setting and participants.
Trained IFHs offered 50 women an antenatal meeting to discuss infant feeding and identify community assets in two English sites - one with a paid peer support service and the other volunteer-led. Postnatally, daily contact was offered for the first 2 weeks, followed by less frequent contact until 5 months.

Interviews with 21 women and focus groups/interviews with 13 IFHs were analysed using thematic and framework methods.

Five themes are reported highlighting that women talked positively about the antenatal meeting, mapping their network of support, receiving proactive contact from their IFH, keeping in touch using text messaging and access to local groups. The face-to-face antenatal visit facilitated regular text-based communication both in pregnancy and in the early weeks after birth. Volunteer IFHs were supportive of and enthusiastic about the intervention, whereas some of the paid IFHs disliked some intervention components and struggled with the distances to travel to participants.

This proactive community assets-based approach with a woman-centred focus was acceptable to women and IFH’s and is a promising intervention warranting further research as to its effect on infant feeding outcomes.


Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Expectations
Early online date21 Mar 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Mar 2020


  • assets-based approach, breastfeeding, infant feeding, peer support, qualitative interviews