the aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a multiphased midwifery intervention called the ‘Milky Way’ on any breastfeeding rates until six months.
a quasi-experimental study with two groups: standard care and intervention.
a tertiary, metropolitan hospital in Sydney, Australia.
eligible participants were nulliparous women aged 19 years and above who planned to breast feed and had basic English literacy (n=420). On the basis of inclusion criteria, women remained in the study if they intended to breast feed prior to birth and had a live, term birth where the infant could breast feed (n=366).
the Milky Way program was informed from theories in midwifery and psychology. The program started in early second trimester. It included three antenatal breastfeeding classes and take home learning activities followed by two postnatal lactation consultation phone calls.
Measurements and findings
antenatal baseline information was collected on the recruitment day and postnatal data were collected via phone interviews at one, four and six month post partum. Breast feeding rates were analysed based on intention to treat. There were no significant differences in the antenatal baseline data between the groups. Compared to standard care, women in the Milky Way group had higher rates of breast feeding at one (83.7%, n=144 versus 61.3%, n=119, p<0.001), four (64.5%, n=111 versus 37.1%, n=72, p<0.001) and six months (54.3%, n=94 versus 31.4%, n=61 p<0.001).
assignment to the Milky Way intervention was associated with significantly higher rates of breastfeeding compared with assignment to standard care only.
Implications for practice
the Milky Way program is a feasible intervention which we recommend to be available to all women who want to breastfeed for the first time.