Women’s Health: Brief counselling helps women breastfeed

Educational session gives participants the confidence to continue with the practice

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A short educational session in the hospital can help women stick with breastfeeding in the months after giving birth.

“We were looking for a simple, practical intervention that could be inexpensively instituted in any hospital setting, and that would have a meaningful impact on breastfeeding practice beyond a few months of the delivery,” says Dr. Yap-Seng Chong of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the National University of Singapore.

Chong and her colleagues recruited 361 women and randomly assigned them to one of three groups after delivery of their baby. One group received audiovisual educational materials about breastfeeding, the second received those same materials plus an individual breastfeeding counselling session, and the third group simply received routine care.

Chong says the counselling sessions were simple, lasting only about 15 minutes, and consisted of a brief examination of the woman’s breasts and nipples to ensure there were no physical obstacles to breastfeeding, as well as time for questions and answers.

Three months after delivery, significantly more women in the counselling group were still breastfeeding than women who received routine care (36 per cent versus 18 per cent). But educational materials alone were no more effective than routine care at encouraging breastfeeding at any time after birth.

The key point of the counselling was to give women more confidence about breastfeeding, Chong says.