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“I just really wanted to breastfeed” - The Impact of Stress on Birth & Baby Feeding in a UK Multi-Ethnic Community

by Sally Etheridge, MA IBCLC
  • Duration: 60 Mins
  • Credits: 1 CERP, 1 L-CERP
  • Learning Format: Webinar
  • Handout: Yes
  • Origin: GOLD Lactation

Breastfeeding is valued among BME parents in the UK for cultural/religious reasons. BME communities experience high levels of stress associated with socio-economic inequalities and other factors. Women experiencing depression and anxiety may find breastfeeding alleviates or exacerbates their symptoms, dependent on the quality of breastfeeding support received, and success or otherwise in overcoming early challenges.

Little is known however about how stress impacts on infant feeding, or how women who have faced significant stress feel about their experiences around pregnancy, birth and feeding. This study explored the experiences of mothers in a multi-ethnic, inner-city community, and the effectiveness of community breastfeeding peer support in helping overcome stress-related barriers. I also considered the experiences of the previous generation within the same community and how they compared to the current generation. I found that stress factors impacted heavily on breastfeeding outcomes. Peer support is an important factor in helping women achieve their goals, mitigating stress.

Learning Objectives:

Objective 1: Recognise potential links between stress/anxiety and suboptimal outcomes for pregnancy/birth, and therefore infant feeding outcome;

Objective 2: Recognise the importance of positive support, especially community peer support, in enabling ‘vulnerable’ women to achieve their breastfeeding goals;

Objective 3: Describe the different stress factors for women from BME communities, depending on whether they were born in the UK, or have come to the UK from other countries;

Objective 4: Recognise that culture is fluid, and explore/challenge stereotypes of certain groups – especially Muslim women – as passive and vulnerable;

Objective 5: Discuss the numerous ways in which breastfeeding can reduce stress, and empower mothers – and conversely how formula feeding may increase stress and anxiety.

Presentations: 29  |  Hours / CE Credits: 26  |  Viewing Time: 8 Weeks