Non-profit breastfeeding organisations' peer support provision in areas of socio-economic deprivation in the UK: A meta-ethnography

Hunt, Louise orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-3895-1202, Thomson, Gillian orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-3392-8182, Whittaker, Karen orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-3493-9396 and Dykes, Fiona Clare orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-2728-7967 (2022) Non-profit breastfeeding organisations' peer support provision in areas of socio-economic deprivation in the UK: A meta-ethnography. Maternal And Child Nutrition, 18 (1). e13271. ISSN 1740-8695

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In many high-income countries such as the UK, inequalities in breastfeeding initiation and continuation rates exist, whereby socio-economically advantaged mothers are most likely to breastfeed. Breastfeeding peer support interventions are recommended to address this inequality, with non-profit breastfeeding organisations providing such support in areas of deprivation. As these organisations’ roots and membership are often formed of relatively highly resourced women who have different backgrounds and experiences to those living in areas of deprivation, it is important to understand their practices in this context.
In order to explore how UK non-profit organisations practice breastfeeding peer support in areas of socio-economic deprivation, a systematic review and meta-ethnography of published and grey literature was undertaken. Sixteen texts were included, and three core themes constructed: (1) ‘changing communities’ reveals practices designed to generate community level change, and (2) ‘enabling one to one support’, explains how proactive working practices enabled individual mothers’ access to supportive environments. (3) ‘forging partnerships with health professionals’, describes how embedding peer support within local health services facilitated peer supporters’ access to mothers. While few breastfeeding peer support practices were directly linked to the context of socio-economic deprivation, those described sought to influence community and individual level change. They illuminate the importance of inter-professional working. Further work to consolidate the peer-professional interface to ensure needs-led care is required.

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