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24th January 2024

200 first-time mums support baby feeding research trial

Almost 200 first-time mums have volunteered for a research study into whether extra support helps them feed their babies in a way that works for them.

ABA-feed, a UK-wide study, is being led by a team of specialist midwives at Swansea Bay University Health Board, in collaboration with Health and Care Research Wales.

The study is open to first-time mums regardless of how they plan to feed their baby and looks at whether having an enhanced support, as in peer support, improves continuation of successful breastfeeding.

Research midwife Sharon Jones said: “We came on board as a health board because we recognised it is a very important study. We really want to promote breastfeeding and are keen to explore ways to provide the most effective support for new mothers.

“We want to support women to be able to breastfeed their babies for as long as they can and want to.”

While breastfeeding can improve the health of mothers and babies, fewer women in the UK breastfeed than those in other countries. Many of them will stop breastfeeding within the first fortnight. Earlier research has suggested that most of these women would have liked more support to help them continue.

Swansea Bay’s infant feeding coordinator, midwife Heather O’Shea, said: “They just feel automatically like it’s not for them. We want to let people know that there are a number of benefits that they may not be aware of.”

Heather said that, for women, breastfeeding can help reduce the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis and cardiac conditions later in life. And for babies it can reduce the risk of diabetes, of childhood infections, and the risk of being hospitalised in their first two years.

Jessica Bevan, from the Sketty area of Swansea and mum to baby Trixie, participated in the trial and said: “I really enjoyed being part of the study. Having someone on hand that I could contact if I was really struggling, especially in the early days was really great.

“With the support of the midwives in the hospital and then our peer supporter, we got there. I feel proud we were able to continue.”

Dr Nicola Williams, National Director of Support and Delivery at Health and Care Research Wales, said: “I’d like to thank all first-time mums participating in this important study. It’s encouraging to see the positive feedback from participants – their experiences are vital to inform the future design of services and to support women making more informed choices about what is right for them and their baby.”