Project HATCH - Staying Healthy AfTer Childbirth

A cross-national study to support smoking abstinence and inter-related cancer-prevention behaviours among postpartum women.

Project HATCH explores how women could be supported to have a healthy lifestyle after pregnancy.

The study seeks the views and experiences of postpartum women, and health professionals working with postpartum women, about how best to promote healthy behaviours following childbirth including not smoking, staying active, and maintaining a healthy diet for mums and babies.

We have conducted focus group discussions and interviews with women who gave birth within the last two years to better understand what has helped and hindered them in maintaining a healthy lifestyle since delivering their baby.

In addition, we have surveyed health professionals including midwives, health visitors, GPs, lactation consultants, and children centre workers about what support is already available to postpartum women and what new support ideas might be feasible to deliver in existing healthcare or community settings.

Feedback from mums and health professionals will be used develop a support package to help postpartum women have a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle is important in helping prevent cancer. This study is funded by Cancer Research UK.

Please contact Dr Caitlin Notley (principal investigator) for more information @ Norwich Medical School

Tel: 01603 591275,  Email:

Publications Publications

Kassianos AP, Ward E, Rojas-Garcia A, Kurti A, Mitchell FC, Nostikasari D, Payton J, Pascal-Saadi J, Spears CA, Notley C. A systematic review and meta-analysis of interventions incorporating behaviour change techniques to promote breastfeeding among postpartum women. Health psychology review. 2019 May 23(just-accepted):1-93

Paper summary:

The World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines recommend exclusive breastfeeding for six months after giving birth because of the health benefits to both mother and baby. Internationally, very few mothers are able to do this. For example, in the UK only 1% of mums report exclusive breastfeeding at 6 months. Different approaches have been developed to promote breastfeeding, but to date nobody has described the range of approaches used or looked at how well they work. 

In this paper, we reviewed 23 studies which had evaluated interventions from across the world which aimed to promote breastfeeding. Mothers who had received support provided by an intervention were twice as likely to exclusively breastfeed for at least thirteen weeks compared to women who did not receive an intervention. Approaches that were found to be helpful for new mothers included support from their families, support from other women and/or nurses/doctors, practical advice on how to breastfeed and help with coping with feeding problems as they arise.

However, the interventions did not help promote longer term breastfeeding to the same extent they promoted breastfeeding in the first few weeks.  This might explain why adherence to WHO recommendations for exclusive breastfeeding for six months after birth is poor, suggesting that women need longer term support. Mothers would benefit from increased peer and professional support and need support, information and demonstration of how to breastfeed. Policy makers may consider both public mass media campaigns and individual interventions that target mothers’ skills, knowledge, motivation and sense of feeling supported.


Project HATCH is a cross-national research study and is being conducted in the UK, led by the University of East Anglia, and in the USA, led by the University of Vermont.

UEA Research Team Members:

Dr Caitlin Notley

Dr Emma Ward

Wider Research Team Members:

Dr Allison Kurti - University of Vermont (USA)

Dr Claire Adams Spears - Georgia State University (USA)

Dr Fiona Mitchell - University of Strathclyde (UK)

Dr Angelos Kassianos - University College London (UK) 

Dr Jamie Payton - Temple University (USA)

Dr Dian Nostikasari - Rice University (USA)


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