Mothers with learning disabilities should be offered tailored support with infant feeding, including accessible resources, according to new research.

The scoping review published in Maternal and Child Nutrition found that women with a learning disability face many challenges during the perinatal period including preparing for and establishing infant feeding.

Evidence shows that women with learning disabilities are less likely to breastfeed than other mothers with only 16.9% of NHS Trusts surveyed having accessible information about infant feeding.

It also found a uniformity in the resources identified, with a focus on ‘easy read,’ whereas other sources of information might be useful, such as videos. What is missing in most instances is an evaluation of the acceptability of the resources available to women with learning
disabilities.

What resources are available to support this population to make decisions about infant feeding?

The importance of healthcare professionals checking understanding is important, as examples are given in the scoping review where women have not necessarily understood the information provided by healthcare staff. For one woman, this misunderstanding resulted in them exclusively bottle‐feeding: “I said I wanted to do both…I got told that it would mess up the baby's head really… So I just went on bottle‐feeding her. (Morgan)"

The review also found that many women wanted health professionals to give practical demonstrations: “I just wanted them to show me, but they would explain it to me and explain it to me and they would show me paper… and I'm like, I don't want you to explain it.
(Paula)” 

The authors said that it appears that these women are not receiving the information they need through the current mechanisms offered. They recommended that further studies in this area put the voices of women with learning disabilities, as well as the health professionals who support them, at the heart of the research