Welcome to the ninth A Better Start Southend Research Bulletin produced by Rachel Wood.

This is your regular update giving you the latest on early years policy, practice and evidence, and how we are using these findings to influence our work in Southend.

If you would like to sign up to receive these updates, or have a question, please email abetterstart@southend.gov.uk

Contents (area of ABSS work):

Breastfeeding Peer Support (Diet and Nutrition)

Pregnancy-related Anxiety and Infant Feeding (Diet and Nutrition)

First Time Mothers’ Experiences of Breastfeeding (Diet and Nutrition)

Evaluation of Talking Matters Programme (Communications and Language)

Early Years’ Childhood Mental Health Workforce Development (Social and Emotional)

Breastfeeding Peer Support

Title: Grant, A. McEwan, K. Tedston, K. Greene, G. Copeland, L. Hunter, B. Phillips, R. Brown, A. Robling, M. and Paranjotny, S. (2017), Availability of Breastfeeding Peer-Support in the UK: A Cross-Sectional Survey, DOI. 10.1111/MCN.12476

Research source: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mcn.12476/abstract

Publication date: 2017

Our summary:

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends peer support in both the initiation and continuation of breastfeeding. However, it is argued that there is a lack of information and the detail of how this is best provided. The study was undertaken to provide a more complete understanding of how services should be implemented. Through surveys it was found that peer support was available in just over half of the areas surveyed. However, the extent of this was variable. It showed that one of the biggest issues was financial, a lack of integration with NHS services, and often not accessed within areas of deprivation. The authors conclude that a more robust evidence base on breastfeeding peer support is required.

How we’re applying the research in Southend

  • We are in the process of completing service design for a breastfeeding support service, something we have been working alongside parents and professionals with, and this will soon be rolled out as a project in the A Better Start Southend wards.

Help us help Southend

  • What sort of peer support in breastfeeding have you experienced before? Was this from friends, family or a volunteer?

Let us know what you think by e-mailing abetterstart@southend.gov.uk

Pregnancy-related Anxiety and Infant Feeding

Title: Fallon, V. Halford, JCD. Bennett, KM. and Harrold, JA. (2017), Post-partum specific anxiety as a predictor of infant-feeding outcomes and perceptions of infant-feeding behaviours: new evidence for childbearing specific measures of mood, Archive of Women’s Mental Health, DOI.10.1007/s00737-017-0775-0

Research source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28936752

Publication date: September 2017

Our summary:

The authors argue that pregnancy related anxiety is distinct from other anxieties, and that it is one that is a predictor of perinatal related outcomes. The aim of the study was to test a new screening tool (Fallon, 2016) the Postpartum Specific Anxiety Scale (PSAS) in the context of breastfeeding, and in terms of predicting both infant feeding and behaviours.

The PSAS measure has a 4 factor structure (51 question scale):

  • Competence and attachment anxieties;
  • Infant safety and welfare anxieties;
  • Practical baby care anxieties; and
  • Psychosocial adjustment to motherhood.

On this basis it is argued that higher levels of pregnancy related anxiety and depression is associated with lower levels of breastfeeding quantity in the first 6 months. It was also found that the PSAS measure was more successful in predicting outcomes than more general measures that looked at mood and anxiety.

Help us help Southend

  • The authors propose that use of the PSAS screening tool would have a positive impact in perinatal services. How could you see it being used in our local infant /breastfeeding services?

Let us know what you think by e-mailing abetterstart@southend.gov.uk

First Time Mothers’ Experiences of Breastfeeding

Title: Choo, PJ. and Ryan, K. (2015), A qualitative study exploring first time mothers’ experiences of breastfeeding in Singapore, Proceedings of Singapore Healthcare, DOI.10.1177/2010105815615992

Research source: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2010105815615992

Publication date: Published in Sage Journals 2016

Our Summary

This study in Singapore seeks to explore breastfeeding experiences of first time mothers, along with the challenge that they may face as the result. This comes in the light of the finding of low rates of exclusive breastfeeding. The authors argue that on the basis of interviews, the main resulting themes were as follows:

  • Challenges and support for breastfeeding in the initial period after birth e.g. latching on;
  • Low degree of support for breastfeeding in the workplace (e.g. attitudes of superiors and colleagues);
  • Unease of breastfeeding in front of others (e.g. embarrassment when the baby grows bigger); and;
  • Emotional and psychological aspects of breastfeeding (e.g. bonding and sense of achievement)

It is also argued that this contributes to a better understanding of breastfeeding. In addition, it proposes that better public awareness and legislation will support the promotion of breastfeeding.

Help us help Southend

  • How similar do you think that the issues that the authors found in the study are to that of the Southend area?

Let us know what you think by e-mailing abetterstart@southend.gov.uk

Evaluation of Talking Matters Programme

Title: Clegg, J. and Rohde, C. (2017) Evaluation of the Elklan Talking Matters Programme, The University of Sheffield

Research source: http://www.elklan.co.uk/reviews/talking-matters

Publication date: July 2017

Our summary

This independent evaluation of the Eklan Talking Matters was undertaken by the University of Sheffield. It centres on workforce development with Key Communication Practitioners (KCPs) and Lead Communications Practitioners (LCPs) and which is then cascaded to staff teams. The programme aims to support children’s outcomes in children’s speech, language and communication. The study found that:

  • Work with KCPs was seen to be more successful than those receiving the LCP programme;
  • Progress with both groups was approaching significance in receptive (or comprehension, is about understanding what is said to you) and expressive (ability to use vocabulary and to put words together to express yourself) language;
  • The results were significant for the total overall language scores; and;
  • Practitioners felt more confident after attending the programme

Help us help Southend

  • How can we use the finding of the evaluation in our workforce development in early years communications and language in Southend?

Let us know what you think by e-mailing abetterstart@southend.gov.uk

Early Years’ Childhood Mental Health Workforce Development

Title: Ritblatt, SN. Hokoda, A. and Vanliew, C. (2017), Investing in the early childhood mental health workforce development: enhancing professionals’ competencies to support emotion and behaviour regulation in young children, Brain Sciences, vol. 7 (120)

Research source: http://www.mdpi.com/2076-3425/7/9/120

Publication date: August 2017

Our summary

The US study takes a preventative approach to infant mental health. This is viewed through workforce development in relation to relational and sensitive care to young children. It argues that the most common issues are behaviour and its regulation. This can lead to children having to leave their setting, and also future mental health challenges. In order to do this the authors used evaluation data to argue that early years’ professionals through the Early Childhood Socio-Emotional and Behaviour Regulations Intervention Specialist (EC-SEBRIS) graduate programme increased in their perception of their ability to achieve positive outcomes and their sensitivity of care in dealing with behavioural health in young children. The study also proposes that children in their care improved their social competencies and reduced the instances of challenging behaviour. On this basis the authors argue that such programmes are essential for all early years’ professionals.

Help us help Southend

  • What such early years’ mental health programmes do you know of? How successful do you think they have they been?

Let us know what you think by e-mailing abetterstart@southend.gov.uk

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