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How Are Effective Breastfeeding Technique and Pacifier Use Related to Breastfeeding Problems and Breastfeeding Duration?

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Background: Inconsistent findings leave uncertainty about the impact of pacifier use on effective breastfeeding technique. The purpose of this study was to investigate how breastfeeding technique and pacifier use were related to breastfeeding problems and duration of breastfeeding. Methods: Data were collected from the intervention group of a randomized trial in which health visitors followed up with mothers for 6 months after childbirth. The health visitors classified the breastfeeding technique at approximately 1 week after birth and repeated the observation if a correction was necessary. Effective technique included positioning, latch, sucking, and milk transfer. Data on breastfeeding problems and pacifier use were obtained from self-reported questionnaires. The study population included 570 mother-baby pairs with complete information on breastfeeding technique and pacifier use. The primary outcome was duration of exclusive breastfeeding. Results: One-half of the mothers showed ineffective breastfeeding technique at the first\ observation, most frequently ineffective position (61%) and latch (52%). In the unadjusted analysis, only sucking and milk transfer were associated with breastfeeding duration. In the adjusted analysis, ineffective technique was significantly associated with mothers reporting early breastfeeding problems, which thereby influenced the breastfeeding duration. Pacifier use had an independent negative impact on duration of breastfeeding. A single correction of the breastfeeding technique was not associated with duration or occurrence of problems. Conclusions: Observation of breastfeeding technique may help mothers in the stage of when they are establishing breastfeeding to avoid early and later problems, but breastfeeding technique is less useful in predicting breastfeeding duration. Use of a pacifier should be avoided in the first weeks after birth. (BIRTH 36:1 March 2009)

Keywords: breastfeeding; nursing assessment; pacifier; postpartum period; sucking behavior

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Michael Væth is a Professor in the Department of Biostatistics at the Institute of Public Health, University of Aarhus, Aarhus C, Denmark.

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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