“Real-world” effect of a peer counselor on breastfeeding outcomes in an urban prenatal clinic in the United States

Noelle G. Martinez*, Angelina Strohbach, Fengling Hu, Lynn M. Yee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: One approach for improving breastfeeding support and alleviating breastfeeding disparities is the implementation of a clinic-based peer counselor. Our objective was to assess the “real life” effects of an autonomous peer counselor who provides tailored support to low-income, minority women based on individual needs rather than a pre-determined research protocol. Methods: This is a secondary analysis of a prospective cohort study of women receiving publicly funded prenatal care during the 6 months before and after introduction of a peer counselor in a single prenatal clinic. The peer counselor provided one-on-one antenatal and postpartum lactation support. Electronic medical record and survey data were collected. The primary outcome was breastfeeding continuation at 6 weeks postpartum. Secondary outcomes included breastfeeding comfort, confidence, and training satisfaction, any breastfeeding, and total breastfeeding duration. Bivariable and multivariable analyses were performed. Results: Peer counselor exposure was not associated with the primary outcome of continued breastfeeding at 6 weeks (55.6% with peer counselor versus 49.1% without; aOR 1.26, 95% CI 0.69–2.31). However, women with peer counselor exposure were more likely to be satisfied with breastfeeding training at the time of delivery (98.2% vs. 83.6%, p = 0.006) and were more likely to have performed any breastfeeding (89.8% vs. 78.9%, p = 0.04), which remained significant on multivariable analysis (aOR 2.85, 95% CI 1.11–7.32). Conclusions: Peer counselor interventions are a promising approach to increase breastfeeding initiation. Further research is required to inform the most efficacious approach while also allowing peer counselors to operate independently and in line with the specific needs of their clients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number671
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Breastfeeding continuation
  • Breastfeeding initiation
  • Health disparities
  • Peer counselor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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