attitudes, perceptions, breastfeeding, rural communities
The Institute of Public Health’s report on Breastfeeding on the Island of Ireland (2017)1 reported that just 58% of infants in the Republic of Ireland were getting some amount of breastmilk on discharge from hospital in 2015. 48% were exclusively breastfed when leaving hospital and this figure significantly drops at 3 months1. The Department of Health’s (2016) National Maternity Strategy, ‘Creating a Better Future Together’, reports that Ireland has the lowest BF rate in Europe2.
Aims & objectives
To explore the attitudes and perceptions of breastfeeding amongst women living in a rural community in the North West of Ireland.
Following ethical approval from the Research Ethics Committee in IT Sligo, consenting women participated in the qualitative study by means of a structured telephone interview. Women were purposively selected for this study with all participants living in a rural community in the North West of Ireland. Interviews were conducted until saturation of data was achieved. All interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysis was conducted using Braun & Clarkes’ 6 Step Thematic Analysis Framework3 Finally, an inter-rater reliability check was conducted to ensure reliability of the categories and themes selected.
A total of 8 women completed the extensive interviews. Qualitative data was analysed using a thematic analysis approach generating 8 key categories and a wide range of sub themes (n=18) including personal challenges, external challenges and personal opinions to breastfeeding in public.
In conclusion, women living in rural north west Ireland have good knowledge and awareness of the breastfeeding recommendations, there is a disparity in women’s self-perceptions of breastfeeding in public and their perceptions of others breastfeeding in public, and more needs to be done in Ireland to increase breastfeeding rates through awareness, education, and social and cultural change.
1 Institute of Public Health (2017) Breastfeeding on the Island of Ireland Report. Available at: https://www.hse.ie/eng/about/who/healthwellbeing/our-priority-programmes/child-health-and-wellbeing/breastfeeding-healthy-childhood-programme/research-and-reports-breastfeeding/breastfeeding-on-the-island-of-ireland-report.pdf (Accessed 31st Oct 2020).
2 Department of Health (2016) Creating a Better Future Together: National Maternity Strategy. Available at:https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/0ac5a8-national-maternity-strategy-creating-a-better-future-together-2016-2/?referrer=/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/final-version-27.01.16.pdf/ (Accessed 31st Oct 2020)
3 Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101. https://doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa