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How Do You Teach?

December 2018

In this final month of 2018, we will take a closer look at Step 5 of the 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, which states: "Show mothers how to breastfeed, and how to maintain lactation even if they should be separated from their infants."

hands off-teaching

Many nurses and breastfeeding educators are trained to use a hands-on approach in assisting mothers to achieve the proper latch for their baby. But have we considered whether or not this approach works? Or how the mother herself feels about it? A 2006 research study compared the use of hands-on vs. hands-off teaching. One interesting aspect was the mothers' impression. "The mothers reported about their experience from hands-on assistance in the breastfeeding situation, describing it as unpleasant, shocking, irritating, and disrespectful,” (Weimers, Svensson, Dumas, Naver & Wahlberg).

This Swedish study of ten mothers in a NICU setting showed "Five main themes were identified: Insult to integrity, Manipulating the baby, Understanding and adjustment, Breasts as objects, Alternatives to this practice,” (2006).

For many healthcare providers, the use of hands-on techniques are easier; they save us time, they get the job done, and there is often less teaching to be done. However, our job is NOT to get the job done; it is to assist the new mother to breastfeed her baby and enjoy the process! This is a life-changing event in her life, and we should not, MUST not interfere in a negative way. Think back to the first class you ever had on patient care: the number one rule was "ask permission before you touch”. Have we forgotten?

GoogleScholar has access to many studies on teaching with a hands-off approach. Take the time needed to become proficient at the use of a demo doll and breast, at talking a mother through that first latch, or at eliciting a wide-open mouth. Don't do it for her! Help her to do it herself, with your hands-off guidance.

 

Kathy Parkes, MSN-Ed, RN, IBCLC, FILCA CHC

Professional Development Educator

 

References: 

Weimer, L., Svensson, K., Dumas, L., Naver, L., and Wahlberg, V. (2006). Hands-on approach during breastfeeding support in a neonatal intensive care unit: a qualitative study of Swedish mothers' experiences. _International Breastfeeding Journal_; 2006. 1:20. Open access at https://doi.org/10.1186/1746-4358-1-20 [3]

 

 

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Last Updated: September 2018