A systematic review of peer support interventions for breastfeeding
Article first published online: 4 JUN 2012
© 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Journal of Clinical Nursing
Volume 21, Issue 13-14, pages 1943–1954, July 2012
How to Cite
Kaunonen, M., Hannula, L. and Tarkka, M.-T. (2012), A systematic review of peer support interventions for breastfeeding. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 21: 1943–1954. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2012.04071.x
- Issue published online: 4 JUN 2012
- Article first published online: 4 JUN 2012
- Accepted for publication: 13 December 2011
- peer support;
- systematic review
Aims and objectives. The objective of this systematic review was to describe peer support interventions supporting breastfeeding during pregnancy and the postnatal period.
Background. Breastfeeding is an effective way to promote infants’ health. Including a peer support element in breastfeeding programmes is a highly successful way to increase breastfeeding.
Design. A systematic literature review.
Methods. The review was conducted from the CINAHL, MEDLINE and the Cochrane Library databases from year 2000 until the end of February 2008. According to the inclusion criteria, the adopted studies focused on breastfeeding, breastfeeding support interventions and education of healthy mothers and infants from the perspective of mothers or family members. Additionally, the studies had to be conducted in Europe, North America, Australia or New Zealand to meet the criteria. Articles combining peer support and professional support were also included in the study.
Results. The results indicated that during pregnancy, hospitalisation and the postnatal period, individual support and education were used most commonly. Peer support was strongly associated with the postnatal period. The combination of professional support and peer support by trained and experienced peer supporters was effective in ensuring the continuation of breastfeeding.
Conclusions. Only continuous breastfeeding support produces effective results. Diverse types of interventions are needed during different phases of motherhood. The role of peer support is most important during the postnatal period. If professional support is not available for mothers, peer support could provide an alternative worth considering.
Relevance to clinical practice. Professionals require breastfeeding education to act as breastfeeding supporters as well as the support of their organisations in this work. Moreover, professionals need to gain knowledge of the role of peer support regarding the efficient combination of professional support and peer support to increase breastfeeding.