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Be Positive as Well as Realistic

March 2015

On the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) journey there are sometimes frustrations or doubts by colleagues that all the changes being implemented don’t really make that much of a difference. Being able to support this journey with research is reassuring to hospital personel. Breastfeeding education to families plays a very important role as it can result in helping to maintain and/or improve exclusive breastfeeding rates for the first six months of life as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). So, how do we provide that information to mothers?

The authors of a recent Canadian study published in the International Breastfeeding Journal investigated mothers’ perceived breastfeeding information needs in order to increase their understanding of early weaning. Although breastfeeding initiation rates are high and the evidence is strong for health advantages related to breastfeeding, the authors wanted to know why mothers were stopping to breastfeed early.

They asked two open-ended questions in the study

  1. What support or advice did you receive that helped you with feeding your baby?
  2. What support or information on feeding your baby would you have found helpful but did not receive?

Many of the mothers did feel their information needs were met and others indicated important areas of information and guidance that they desired. These included “milk supply management, frequency/duration of feeds, proper latch and feeding positions, nipple care, expression/pumping, other nutrition sources, and realistic information regarding common breastfeeding concerns.

The areas where these mothers indicated they wanted more information closely correlates with the common reasons mothers have stated previously for weaning early such as perceived low milk supply, nipple pain and difficulties with latching. The need for lactation support that universally provides breastfeeding mothers with information on these key areas is emphasized in this study.

To quote the study “Lactation supports should reinforce critical information and seek feedback to ascertain that mothers have clearly understood the information provided. Ensuring mothers receive and understand key breastfeeding information is a modifiable factor in efforts to increase breastfeeding duration rates."

Providing breastfeeding education that includes: information about establishing and maintaining milk supply, normal breastfeeding behavior (including frequency, duration of feeds, latch and positioning) as well as providing lactation support, is a modifiable factor that can be incorporated into all healthcare facilities and has the potential to increase breastfeeding duration rates.

Article: “Be positive as well as realistic”: A qualitative description analysis of information gaps experienced by breastfeeding mothers, by Marie Dietrich Leurer and Eunice Misskey

You can be proud you are providing evidence-based breastfeeding information to your families and be assured it makes a difference.

Until next month,

Carole and Lenore
Carole Dobrich, RN, IBCLC, ANLC & Lenore Goldfarb, PhD, CCC, IBCLC, ALC
Directors Step2 Education
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