'Informal' learning to support breastfeeding: local problems and opportunities

Stephen Abbott, Mary J. Renfrew, Alison McFadden (Lead / Corresponding author)

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    13 Citations (Scopus)
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    This study explored 'informal' learning opportunities in three health economies, both for National Health Service (NHS) staff and lay people wishing to promote and support breastfeeding and for new mothers wishing to breastfeed. The word 'informal' indicates local learning opportunities that are not part of recognized academic or professional training courses. Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 31 key informants, including health visitors, midwives, infant feeding advisers, Sure Start personnel, voluntary organization representatives, Strategic Health Authority representatives, senior nurses and trainers. The results were analysed thematically. In each site, there were regular training events for NHS staff to acquire or update knowledge and skills. Training was provided by a small number of enthusiasts. Midwives and health visitors were the groups who attend most frequently, although many find it difficult to make time. Although many training events were multidisciplinary, few doctors appeared to attend. Individual staff also used additional learning opportunities, e.g. other courses, conferences, web-based learning, and training by voluntary organizations. Services offered to lay people by the NHS, Sure Start and voluntary organizations included parentcraft, antenatal and post-natal classes, breastfeeding support groups, 'baby cafés' and telephone counselling. Interviewees'organizations did not have a specific breastfeeding strategy, although action groups were trying to take the agenda forward. Local opportunities were over-dependent on individual champions working in relative isolation, and support is needed from local health economies for the facilitation of coordination and networking.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)232-238
    Number of pages7
    JournalMaternal and Child Nutrition
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2006


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