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Ringing up about breastfeeding

A randomised controlled trial exploring early telephone peer support for breastfeeding


RUBY logo

What is the study about?

The RUBY study is a randomised controlled trial (RCT) which is exploring whether telephone support for breastfeeding (from a volunteer mother who has breastfed) increases the percentage of women giving their baby any breast milk at six months. We are testing whether providing this support in a proactive manner for mothers who may not easily have access to, nor readily seek, such support themselves will make a difference.

All mothers in the study will have had their first baby. They will be approached in the postnatal wards of the participating hospitals, and asked if they would like to take part in the study. In an RCT, women are allocated by chance to one of two groups; this means that half of the new mothers enrolled in the study will receive telephone support from volunteers and half will receive normal postnatal care. All the women in the study will have access to the usual community and hospital supports for breastfeeding.

Which organisations are involved in the study?

The project is collaboration between the university, hospital sectors and the peak community advocacy group for breastfeeding:


McLardie-Hore FE,Forster DA, McLachlan HL, Shafiei T, Amir L, Davey M-A, Grimes H, Gold L. (2023) Is proactive telephone-based breastfeeding peer support a cost-effective intervention? A within-trial cost-effectiveness analysis of the ‘Ringing Up about Breastfeeding earlY’ (RUBY) randomised controlled trial. BMJ Open. 13:e067049  doi:10.1136/ bmjopen-2022-067049

McLardie-Hore, FE., Forster, DA., Shafiei, T., McLachlan, HL. (2022) First-time mothers' experiences of receiving proactive telephone-based peer support for breastfeeding in Australia: a qualitative study. International Breastfeeding Journal.17(1):31 doi: 10.1186/s13006-022-00476-7.

McLardie-Hore, FE., McLachlan, HL., Shafiei, T., Forster, DA. (2020) Proactive telephone-based peer support for breastfeeding: a cross-sectional survey of women's experiences of receiving support in the RUBY randomised controlled trial. BMJ Open. 10(10): e040412.  doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-040412

Forster, DA., McLachlan, HL., Davey, M-A., Amir, LH., Gold, L., Small, R., Mortensen, K., Moorhead, AM., Grimes, HA., & McLardie-Hore, FE. (2014) Ringing Up about Breastfeeding: a randomised controlled trial exploring early telephone peer support for breastfeeding (RUBY) trial protocol. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. 14: 177

The RUBY study was recently published in the Lancet journal EClincalMedicine:

Proactive peer (mother-to-mother) breastfeeding support by telephone (Ringing Up about Breastfeeding EarlY [RUBY]): A multicentre, unblinded, randomised controlled trial. EClinicalMedicine, 2019; 8:20-8. Available from: [external link].

The RUBY study also featured:

  • in The Age newspaper titled "Mum-to-mum phone support boosts breastfeeding: Study" (Miki Perkins, 6 March 2019)
  • in a La Trobe University media release and
  • in an interview on ABC radio with Jon Faine on March 6, 2019 (2hrs 7minutes in).

more information

How are we conducting the study?

We will recruit about 1150 women to be research participants in the RUBY study; around half of these women will be allocated a volunteer mother who calls them regularly in the early weeks after the birth of their baby.

We are not sure how many volunteer mothers we will need – it will depend on how long women volunteer for, and how many RUBY study participants they take on at any one time.

It is anticipated that the study will run for approximately three years.  Volunteer mothers may be involved for all or part of the time.  For example, some RUBY mothers may wish to provide support to one new mother, whilst others will be involved with multiple women over the course of the study.

Who is funding the study?

The study is funded by the Felton Bequest and in part by a PhD scholarship from LTU.

Privacy and access to information

Information collected is kept confidential and the data will be used only for the purposes of this study. We have research ethics approval to conduct this study.

Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry (ANZCTR) number: ACTRN12612001024831

If you would like more information, please email Prof Della Forster ( or Ms Fiona McLardie-Hore ( or phone (03) 8345 2932.