28 May

BfN Central Evaluation Highlights 2021

The BfN Central Evaluation is conducted every year. Its purpose is to help us to understand what we are doing well, where we can improve and also give us the evidence we need to  secure future funding.

The 2021  evaluation survey was launched on 1st March 2020 and we received 318 responses in total  (due to the pandemic, we received significantly less responses, which we expected)

 

2021 BfN Results Summary:

88% of the responses came from breast-feeding parents, 6% from Health Professionals and 6% from family, partners or others.  

26% of respondents were supported by the BfN Drugs in Breastmilk Service, social media chat support gave us 24% of the responses and our National Breastfeeding Helpline 6.5%. 

Other BfN Project areas also had a high response rate – as expected – and the Project Managers will receive and localised project evaluation report to share with their commissioners, staff, volunteers and local families.  

When asked about their first contact with BfN, 8% of respondents said they had support from BfN before their baby was born.  The highest ‘first contact’ bracket was the 3-6 week age bracket (18%) then the 7 week – 3 month age bracket (14.5%), and 12% in at 3-6 months.  10% of first contacts were when their baby was 2-4 days old.  These timings reflect the usual periods when breastfeeding parents  need specific support. 

For the last two years, 64% of this year of people contacted BfN because they were experiencing breastfeeding problems.  This year the figure rose to 72.5% – reflecting the need for support during lockdown when other avenues of care were reduced. 

When asked the ways they had contact with BfN (ticking all that applied) 40% reported they had used our website for information and 31% spoke to a Supporter on the telephone.  30% had support from our social media chat team and 31% requested information from the drugs in breastmilk service.  Home visits rates dropped from 27% last year to 8% which is understandable, but our new virtual/video breastfeeding groups were attended by 26.5% of responders.  14% had a 1-2-1 video call with a peer supporter.  

Our virtual/video groups and calls have proved so successful we are planning to keep some going even when face to face groups can begin again: 28% of participants said they would be keen to attend both virtual and real groups and intend to continue with video support calls. 

 

What respondents told us about accessing virtual support: 

“Liked the video support. Really convenient because I didn’t have to try and leave the house with a baby!” 

 “Now and then I have missed the interaction but the support received especially thorough zoom has been amazing” 

 “Very useful to have at least the video calls if can’t in person. I would have felt so lost and alone without this” 

Once again – the most popular topic of discussion with BfN Peer Supporters was positioning and attachment for feeding at 57% with 45.5% of people struggling with painful breasts and nipples.  33.5% of parents asked for information about medication/medical intervention and impact on breast milk/ breastfeeding.  

The next common topics were baby’s weight gain and expressing milk – exactly the same topics as last year and the year before.  20% of people talked about their mental wellbeing or mood.  

We hope we were able to ensure all these parents were able to continue feeding their babies if they wished to.  A new topic this year was Covid with 19% of parents reporting that they asked about the safety of breastfeeding with covid or when being vaccinated.   

As in previous years, we asked a variety of ‘before/after’ questions and were delighted with the answers, which proved the value of peer support: 

60% agreed they had the information needed to make decisions about feeding their baby before contact with BfN, rising to 90% after support from BfN. 

40% of breastfeeding parents could breastfeed without pain before contacting BfN, increasing to 75% after peer support. 

 

Some other highlights from these ‘Before & After’ statements include: 

Respondents Said 

Before BfN support 

After BfN support 

I felt confident about making choices regarding breastfeeding 

63% 

90% 

I had people who could give me support with breastfeeding 

54% 

90% 

I felt part of a group / network / community that supported me with breastfeeding 

32% 

76% 

I felt able to continue to breastfeed for as long as I chose 

62% 

85% 

I had information on what support was available for breastfeeding in my local area 

48% 

80% 

I felt lonely and isolated on my breastfeeding journey 

35% 

12% 

Nearly than half of respondents claimed that BfN supported them to breastfeed for longer than they otherwise would have done.  Reasons given for this included evidence based information about medication, information about attachment and finding a pain free position, expressing milk, managing blocked ducts and mastitis, knowing what is ‘normal’ new born behaviour and that it is possible and beneficial for older babies and toddler to breastfeed. 

There were also lots of comments about general support, practical suggestions, building confidence and encouragement, feeling listened to.  

90% of parents said they felt listened to, that their choices were respected, the support/information they received was specific to them and they did not feel pressured to do any particular thing. 

96% of families were satisfied with the support they received from BfN and 95% would recommend us to family or friends.  

 

Comments from respondents: 

“I have just qualified as a Peer Supporter. Inspired by the support I received after the birth of my first child.” 

“Positive support and made me feel more confident with my decision to breastfeed.” 

“I find your medication fact sheets extremely helpful and regularly use them to inform discussions around breastfeeding and medications with my patients.” 

“Thank you for your help at a tough time last year!” 

“Made me feel confident to go forward on my breastfeeding journey.” 

“The most valuable service in my opinion. Please pass on my thanks.” 

“They were more understanding and had time for me” 

“Felt like a friend talking to me” 

“Time, and gentle manner” 

“It was also reassuring to know that someone else had experienced the same problems as me.” 

“No judgment or pressure” 

“Easy to access at any time of day” 

“They knew what they were talking about using a hands off demonstration approach”  

“They listened to me. They listened to what happened during my birth, to how I wanted to feed my baby and to my concerns at the time. They offered kind and practical support and gave me all the time I needed to talk” 

 

 

Nina White 
Programme Manager  
21.4.2021 
 
Area based reports will be prepared for projects to enable a focused response to suggestions/comments.