For You & Baby

A campaign to reduce smoking in pregnancy and increase breastfeeding rates in Derbyshire

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The brief

Derbyshire’s Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) wanted to understand why many women in Derbyshire continue to smoke during pregnancy, in addition to why many women cease breastfeeding behaviours by six-to-eight weeks after birth.

The number of women reportedly smoking at time of delivery (SATOD) was higher than the national average and although concurrent with the national average, less than half of women in Derbyshire were still breastfeeding past six-to-eight weeks.

Derbyshire’s CCGs commissioned Social Change UK to undertake insight research into the attitudes and behaviours of residents in Derbyshire related to smoking in pregnancy and breastfeeding in order to understand what factors are encouraging/discouraging these behaviours. This research would help inform a campaign targeting mothers and mothers-to-be, to encourage them to lead healthier lifestyles for their baby, i.e. stopping smoking and breastfeeding for longer. Recommendations and key messages would be generated to be used in the campaign

For You & Baby

What we did

Initial scoping research was undertaken to understand the challenges surrounding both topics at both a national and local level.

We reviewed data relating to rates of smoking at time of delivery (SATOD) and breastfeeding rates at six-to-eight weeks. We also looked at previous initiatives and campaigns aiming to reduce SATOD and increase breastfeeding rates to understand what type of messaging had been effective previously.

Quantitative research was carried out with residents of Derbyshire through an online survey, with a focus on pregnant women and mothers. The survey investigated residents’ attitudes towards smoking in pregnancy and breastfeeding, as well as their awareness of support services and belief in myths related to the topic areas. We also engaged with the wider stakeholder groups using telephone interviews, in-person interviews and focus group discussions.

For You & Baby

What we found

The research provided us with useful insights related to both smoking in pregnancy and breastfeeding to help support the campaign creation.

For smoking in pregnancy, we found that there is strong knowledge and awareness of the harms of smoking in pregnancy, but that pregnancy is also considered to be a stressful time, exacerbating the difficulty in quitting smoking. As a result, many people think that quitting smoking while pregnant should be a team effort involving support from partners, family and friends to increase the chances of success. Those who smoke are likely to feel ashamed and embarrassed about smoking during pregnancy and want reassurance that any support they access will be non-judgemental and friendly to help them quit.

In relation to breastfeeding, we found that women think the decision about whether to breastfeed or not and for how long to do so is ultimately the mother’s choice. Women who have or are currently breastfeeding explained that it can be difficult to breastfeed, and highlighted the range of challenges related to initiating and continuing to breastfeed. They therefore want to have tailored support to meet their needs.

For You & Baby

We also found that mothers who have previously or are currently bottle feeding were more likely to consider myths in favour of bottle feeding to be true.

Breastfeeding can be perceived as a lonely experience and women often fear a negative public judgement. Mothers explained that having a community of support from others who have breastfed/are breastfeeding would help to overcome these difficulties.

The insights helped generate concept ideas for the ‘For You & Baby’ campaign for both campaign materials and messaging. The campaign focuses on providing support for mothers, pregnant women and their families with regards to general health, with a particular focus on smoking in pregnancy and breastfeeding. The campaign is being rolled out across Derbyshire for six months, after which time, an evaluation will take place to assess its success and impact.