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Use of breast pumps to improve breastfeeding outcomes: development and feasibility testing of novel incentive intervention


To gather information about expressing, use of pumps and opinions of the provision of a breast pump service as an incentive to breastfeed.


Breast pumps are popular because they allow others to feed the baby and overcome anxiety about breastfeeding in public.  Women have to buy or hire pumps and some women cannot afford to do this.  A breast pump incentive worth £40 was the most popular incentive for breastfeeding in our recent UK BIBS study survey led by Pat Hoddinott [HBC02.1].  Earlier research led by Pat Hoddinott was commissioned by NHS Health Scotland in 2010 (, and published in BMJ Open in 2012 ( found that parents were dissatisfied with information and support about expressing breast milk and the use of breast pumps.  Midwife Alex Arbuckle identified and analysed websites providing breast pump information to mothers as an MRes project in 2015 (unfunded work) supervised by Pat and Rhona (see outputs below).

This online survey which included structured and free text questions to mothers who had given birth within 5 years was undertaken by Rhona McInnes (previously University of Stirling) and Pat Hoddinott in 2015 (unfunded work).  In addition, the purpose of the survey and the website analysis was to inform the BABI 1 funding application to Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity (HBC02.3) to develop a breast pump incentive intervention.  This started as a small on-line survey disseminated through a local Mother and Baby Group who contribute Public and Patient Involvement to our research and to community mother and baby groups through the Scottish Infant Feeding Advisory Network, which Pat and Rhona are members of.  The survey asked mothers about breast pump use, availability and support through the NHS, through 3rd sector organisations and about attitudes to hiring a breast pump or receiving a breast pump voucher worth £40.  This survey proceeded to go viral via NetMums and Facebook.  NHS Health Scotland have provided funding to assist with data management and analysis, in order to inform a proposed Scottish Government Breast Pump Hire Policy.  This aims to address the health inequalities of breast pump access highlighted by the BIBS study (HBC02.1) and a Masters of Research student and inform the BABI suite of projects [HBC02.3].


The survey had 666 respondents.  Opinions on a free breast pump or hire service were favourable; however qualitative analysis of free text comments indicated a range of concerns and suggestions which could help inform a potential intervention.  Scottish Government is planning to introduce a free breast pump hire service polity across Scotland, informed by the findings of this study.  The team are currently negotiating funding for this work.

Principal Investigator: Edinburgh Napier University

NMAHP Research Unit Collaborators: Professor Pat Hoddinott, Andrew Elders, Nicola Gillespie

External Collaborators: Currie C - University of Stirling

Funder:  NHS Health Scotland

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