Experiences with peer support for breastfeeding in Beirut, Lebanon: A qualitative study by FHS and FM researchers

​Despite the beneficial effects of peer support on breastfeeding, research on the process of peer support is scarce. In Lebanon, the rate of exclusive breastfeeding is only 15% in infants below six months of age. Despite universal coverage in use of prenatal care and hospital births, there are no structured activities, or interventions that are embedded within the health care system that specifically aim at providing information and support for breastfeeding mothers.

With the aim to describe the experiences of breastfeeding mothers and peer support providers with the process of breastfeeding support, and the influence of the intervention on their social support system, a team of researchers led by Tamar Kabakian from the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) and colleagues from the Faculty of Medicine in the American University of Beirut (AUB) launched a multi-component breastfeeding support intervention, with peer support, and professional lactation support provided by International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLs) to target this decline.

The paper provides an in-depth description of the process of peer support, and the mechanisms through which this type of support is perceived to influence the social context, and the realities of breastfeeding mothers and their peer supporters. The results of this study can inform the tailoring of peer support training programs in similar contexts, and the scaling up of similar interventions.

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