Identifying effective breastfeeding support for healthy women and those with long-term conditions

Anna Gavine, Shona Shinwell , Laura Hay, Phyll Buchanan, Albert Farre, Angie Wade, Fiona Lynn, Joyce L. Marshall, Sara Cumming, Shadrach Dare, Flávia Ximenes Vasconcelos, Alison McFadden

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Many women stop breastfeeding before they intended and report a lack of support from healthcare providers (Fox, McMullen, & Newburn, 2015). Moreover, women with multiple long-term conditions may have additional difficulties breastfeeding (Scime, Patten, Tough & Chaput, 2022). The aim of this work is to identify effective interventions to support all women to breastfeed.


This presentation is comprised of two linked work packages of the Action4breastfeeding study. The first is an update of the Cochrane Review on Breastfeeding Support for healthy women with healthy term babies (Gavine et al., 2022). As this Cochrane review excludes women with long-term conditions, an additional Systematic Review to identify effective interventions for women with long-term conditions is currently underway.


The updated Cochrane review identified 116 randomised controlled trials which involved 98,816 women and their babies. Interventions were grouped into ‘breastfeeding only’ interventions and ‘breastfeeding plus’ interventions which contain other aspects of maternal and newborn care. We found moderate certainty evidence that ‘breastfeeding only’ support helped reduce the number of women stopping any at exclusive breastfeeding at 4-6 weeks, 3-4 months and 6 months. For ‘breastfeeding plus’ the evidence is less certain but there was some evidence of a beneficial effect on exclusive breastfeeding. Meta-regression identified that a schedule of 4-8 contacts may help with exclusive breastfeeding. However, there were no differences in terms of who provides the support (i.e. peer or professional) or the mode of deliver (e.g. face-to-face, telephone, digital).

The Systematic Review on breastfeeding support for women with long-term conditions has identified 20 studies meeting the inclusion criteria. Analysis is currently underway, and results will be presented.


For healthy women, organized support can help increase the duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding. Given the increase in prevalence of maternal long-term conditions (NHS England, 2016), we need to better understand if support can also be effective for women with long-term conditions. Further linked work is also on-going to better understand how the effective interventions identified in these work packages can be implemented in an NHS setting.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2023
EventMaternal and Infant Nutrition and Nurture Unit (MAINN) Conference - The Grange Hotel, Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria, United Kingdom
Duration: 19 Apr 202321 Apr 2023


ConferenceMaternal and Infant Nutrition and Nurture Unit (MAINN) Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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