To compare breast feeding at two and four months after delivery in mothers discharged early (ED = before 72 hours post delivery) and late (LD = after 72 hours post delivery), and to explore the factors of greatest importance to the successful practice of breast feeding.
Ex-post facto design.
In the country of Härryda, Sweden.
All Swedish speaking women in the country of Härryda whose babies were born between 01.01.94 and 31.05.94 and who were registered at the Child Health Station (CHS) by the age of three months. One hundred and ninety women were invited to participate and 157 (83%) accepted.
No significant difference was found in the breast feeding rates between the ED and LD group. However, ED mothers breast fed exclusively to a higher extent at two and at four months (exclusive breast feeding: at two months 89% and 86% respectively, and at four months 84% and 74% respectively, partial breast feeding: at two months 6% and 10% respectively, and at four months 5% and 12% respectively). If the woman considered that she had received encouragement and support while breast feeding for the first time, the probability of her breast feeding at two and at four months were about six times as great (Exp(B) 5.7594, df = 1, p = 0.0270; (Exp(B) 5.9781 df = 1, p = 0.0005 respectively).
The length of the hospital stay had no significant effect on the incidence of breast feeding at two and four months post delivery. The most predominant factors influencing breast feeding were seen to be the mother's first experience of breast feeding and the degree of support, help and encouragement she received. Less than half of the women received a visit from the CHS nurse after their return home from hospital.
The findings suggest that it is important that the midwife or nurse should prepare, support and encourage the mother when breast feeding for the first time. The midwife's or nurse's interventions are important for the incidence of breast feeding, at least during the first four months, and indirectly affect public health. This must also be taken into consideration when caring for mothers in the delivery ward and before discharge, i.e. that the breast feeding is working well, that the mother experiences it as working well, and also for planning follow-up after discharge.