Family support is a key to breastfeeding finds systematic review


A new systematic review of barriers and facilitators of breastfeeding in developing countries has identified family support as a key factor. It quotes a study from Lebanon showing that family support for breastfeeding is a cultural expectation and this strongly supports breastfeeding.

Conversely lack of support from family is a barrier, as shown in studies from Ghana, Nigeria and other countries.

The systematic review looked at 25 qualitative and quantitative studies covering 11,000 women in 19 countries, dating from between 2001 and 2014.

These findings are consistent with the studies we have reported on earlier showing that engagement with families in the promotion of breastfeeding makes a huge difference to breastfeeding rates and that family support is one of the biggest of all influences on breastfeeding.

The report recommends that family members should be invited to attend antenatal clinics “to dispel myths”.

The successful family engagement practice that we have reported on, however, goes beyond just antenatal engagement with the limited aim of dispelling ignorance. Successful engagement with families requires a positive approach – seeing those closest to the woman as a potential resource that will, if well informed and supported, make good decisions in relation to the health of mother and baby. And successful family engagement goes beyond antenatal care into the actual period of breastfeeding.


Balogun OO, Dagvadorj A, Anigo KM, Ota E & Sasaki S (2015), Factors influencing breastfeeding exclusivity during the first 6 months of life in developing countries: a quantitative and qualitative systematic review, Maternal and Child Nutrition

Photo: UNICEF Ethiopia. Creative Commons.