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Human-Milk Feeding after NICU Discharge

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Purpose: Difficulty with breastfeeding is common, and challenges are particularly pronounced for mothers of ill or preterm infants. This study explores the breastfeeding experiences of mothers of these at-risk infants to determine their breastfeeding patterns and to better understand reasons they prematurely stop breastfeeding and/or human-milk feeding (HMF).

Design: A qualitative, longitudinal, descriptive design was used.

Sample: The sample consisted of 144 mothers whose preterm or ill infants were cared for in either an NICU or an intermediate care nursery in a large central Canadian city; 112 mothers completed data collection to six weeks after their infants were discharged from the hospital.

Main Outcome Variable: The main outcome variable was continued breastfeeding or HMF of formerly ill or preterm infants at one and six weeks after their discharge from the hospital.

Results: Of infants who were being fed mother's milk when discharged from the hospital, 71 percent continued to receive at least some mother's milk at six weeks after discharge. Mothers reported that their own physical and emotional problems, infant health concerns, and lack of time and support were reasons for discontinuing provision of human milk.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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