Can a simple and innovative strategy make a difference in perceiving low milk supply?
Introduction: Insufficient milk supply is one of the most common reasons women give for breastfeeding cessation. Only about five percent of women have physiological insufficient milk supply which means that the majority of women perceive to have low milk supply.
Aim: To introduce a simple and innovative strategy to support women to understand their own body and interpret their babies' behaviour in terms of having sufficient milky supply.
Method: A quasi experimental study called the Milky Way program was conducted among 250 Australian women aimed at increasing breastfeeding rates up to six months. A simple and innovative strategy was used to encourage women to trust themselves and be confident to ensure that they have sufficient milk supply. The strategy involved hand on activities such as using popper juice, post cards and role-playing about different situations when women may doubt their milk supply.
Results: Women in the intervention group had lower breastfeeding cessation rates at one, four and six months (16.3%, 35.5% and 45.3%, n = 172) compared to the standard care group (38.7%, 62.9% and 68.6%, n = 194) (p < .001). The majority of women in the standard care group stopped breastfeeding due to perceived low milk supply (60.2%) whereas only a small number of women in the intervention group (7.4%) perceived to have low milk supply when they ceased breastfeeding (p < .001).
Conclusion: The Milky Way program was effective in supporting women to identify their sufficient milk supply. The intervention is a feasible strategy, which can be delivered by midwives and other health professionals as part of standard maternity care. The strategy can be used in policies and best-practice recommendations that address perceived low milk supply and support breastfeeding practice at local, national and international levels.