• breastfeeding;
  • social support;
  • adolescents


Objective: To define aspects of social support that adolescents need from nurses when initiating breastfeeding in the early postpartum.

Data Sources: MEDLINE and CINAHL databases for years 2000 to 2009.

Data Extraction: Three searches were done using the following subject terms: adolescent mothers and breastfeeding (12 studies), adolescent mothers and breastfeeding and support (24 studies), and breastfeeding and adolescent mothers and attitudes (15 studies). The 18 studies that were chosen for this synthesized review illuminated the dimensions of social support identified by House.

Data Synthesis: The four types of supportive behavior categories identified by House were described in these studies (informational, instrumental, emotional, and appraisal). Esteem support as defined by Sarafino seemed to be synonymous with appraisal support. Many studies identified the importance of network support as a fifth category of supportive behavior in increased breastfeeding duration among adolescents; network support was included in this synthesis. These five types of social support provide a framework for defining supportive nurse behaviors.

Conclusions: Nurses in the early postpartum can promote the long-term health of adolescents and their children through the social support they offer adolescent mothers as they initiate breastfeeding. Network support appears to be essential to adolescents' breastfeeding experiences and needs to be included with informational, instrumental, emotional, and esteem/appraisal support when investigating support for this population. By integrating the five dimensions of social support into their care, nurses play an essential role in providing adolescents with the positive experiences that are so important to establishing breastfeeding.