Care for the New-Born : Breastfeeding and Skin-to-Skin Contact

Abstract: Breastfeeding is associated with improved health in mothers and children and human milk is especially beneficial for preterm infants. The vast majority of pregnant women in Sweden intend to breastfeed, but breastfeeding rates are suboptimal, with even lower rates for preterm infants.The overall aim of this thesis was to describe breastfeeding patterns of preterm and term infants and to evaluate an intervention based on the Ten steps to successful breastfeeding on breastfeeding outcomes.In Paper I, mothers of preterm infants reported large variations in breastfeeding frequencies and patterns. The median breastfeeding frequencies from birth to six months ranged from 10–14 times per 24 hours with the majority practicing on demand breastfeeding.In Paper II the median daily duration of skin-to-skin contact in preterm infants during the hospital stay was associated with earlier breastfeeding attainment. Infants commenced full breastfeeding at a median postmenstrual age of 35+0 weeks (range 32+1 to 37+5). Breastfeeding duration was shorter than national statistics.Paper III describes the development and implementation of a breastfeeding support program for term and preterm infants using Intervention Mapping. The method was time-consuming, but allowed for a solid theoretical base, high involvement of stakeholders and was sufficiently comprehensive.Paper IV included term infants at age two months and their mothers and consisted of a baseline group and intervention group. Mothers reported large variations in breastfeeding frequencies and patterns. Mothers in the intervention group breastfed more frequently, in median 14 times compared to 11 times in the baseline group, and they also practiced on demand breastfeeding to a larger extent. Mothers with exclusive breastfeeding reported higher self -efficacy.This thesis provides a better understanding of breastfeeding patterns in preterm and term infants and it demonstrates that breastfeeding frequencies and on demand breastfeeding can be influenced with improved breastfeeding support. For preterm infants, breastfeeding attainment is facilitated by skin-to-skin-contact and they have the capability to breastfeed at a low postmenstrual age. This thesis also demonstrates a possible link between breastfeeding patterns and mothers’ ability to interpret infant cues. Intervention Mapping is a useful tool in the development of breastfeeding support programs.