Improving access to breastfeeding support in British Columbia: Needs assessment of a virtual health intervention

Breastfeeding has numerous benefits for parents and infants. However, many parents encounter challenges with breastfeeding that can lead to early breastfeeding cessation. In addition, persons across British Columbia (BC), especially those in rural or remote regions, cannot access breastfeeding support. This has been especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic, as social distancing protocols and anxiety over personal safety have decreased opportunities for face-to-face interactions. My postdoctoral work will identify effective telehealth strategies and interventions to deliver breastfeeding support to persons living in BC. This study will have three phases: a literature review of effective virtual breastfeeding support; interviews to understand the support needs and acceptance of virtual breastfeeding support among healthcare providers and persons; and development of a clinical guideline for virtual breastfeeding support. Knowledge gained from this study will be used to develop a framework for the provision of virtual breastfeeding support. In addition, it will inform health policy, research, and practice for new parents living in rural BC or those who experience challenges in receiving face-to-face breastfeeding support.