Women's views about a free breast pump service: Online survey informing intervention development

McInnes, Rhona J., Gillespie, Nicola, Crossland, Nicola orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-1063-8123, Moran, Victoria Louise orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-3165-4448 and Hoddinott, Pat (2019) Women's views about a free breast pump service: Online survey informing intervention development. Maternal & Child Nutrition, 15 (2). ISSN 1740-8695

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/mcn.12745


Improving breastfeeding outcomes is a global priority, however, in the UK continuation of breastfeeding remains low. Growing empirical evidence suggests a free breast pump service might be an acceptable and feasible incentive intervention to improve breastfeeding outcomes and reduce heath inequalities.

To inform intervention development we conducted an on‐line survey with women recruited via social media using snowball sampling. Data were analysed descriptively (closed questions) with qualitative thematic analysis (free text).

The survey was completed by 666 women, most of whom had recently breastfed and used a breast pump. Participants agreed that free pump hire (rental/loan) (567 women; 85.1%) or a free pump to keep (408; 61.3%) should be provided. Free text comments provided by 408 women (free pump) and 309 women (free hire) highlighted potential benefits: helping women to continue breastfeeding, express milk; overcome difficulties; and pump choice. Concerns are possible effect on breastmilk supply, reduced breastfeeding, pumps replacing good support for breastfeeding and pump hire hygiene. Personal and societal costs are important issues. Some suggested a pump service should be for low‐income mothers, those with feeding difficulties or sick/preterm infants. A one‐size service would not suit all and vouchers were proposed. Some suggested fees and deposits to prevent waste.

To our knowledge this is the first study reporting views about the acceptability of providing a free breast pump hire service. Mothers support and wish to have a say in breast pump service development. Future evaluations should address impact on feeding outcomes, professional support, hygiene for hired pumps, and costs.

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