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Post-discharge breastfeeding patterns of mothers and their preterm infants born at 30 to 34 weeks gestation Wooldridge, Joanne Melissa

Abstract

Little is known about how preterm infants make the transition from breastfeeding and bottle feeding to exclusive breastfeeding in the weeks following hospital discharge. The thesis examined breastfeeding patterns for 66 infants between 30 and 35 weeks gestation over a four-week period after hospital discharge. The relationships among breastmilk feeding, feeding mode, maternal confidence and competence were also examined. Daily feeding diaries were completed by 53 mothers. From a detailed examination of the feeding diaries, the proportion of breastmilk feeds, and feeding mode (feeds directly at breast) were described. The infants received a high proportion of breastmilk feeds with 60% receiving breastmilk exclusively for the first week, and 56% receiving breastmilk exclusively for the four-week period. The number of feeds directly at breast increased steadily over the four-week period. Twins received significantly (F [1, 58] = 2.58, p. = .055) fewer breastmilk feeds than singletons, and were fed directly at breast significantly (F [1, 61] = 13.84, p = .0004) less often. In week one, mothers giving breastmilk feeds exclusively had higher levels of competence than those giving breastmilk and artificial milk (F [1, 48] = 5.71, p = .02). Mothers who fed directly at breast more than half of the time were significantly more confident (F [1, 49] = 5.32, p = .03) and competent (F [1, 49] = 4.24, p = .05) in week one than those who fed directly at breast less than half of the time. Maternal confidence (t [50] = - 5.13, p < .01) and competence (t [50] = -4.25, p < .01) increased significantly from week one to week four for the whole group. The findings are discussed in relation to the literature, and the implications for nursing practice, education, administration and research are presented.

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