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Improved exclusive breastfeeding rates in preterm infants after a neonatal nurse training program focusing on six breastfeeding-supportive clinical practices

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BACKGROUND: Early breast milk expression, prolonged skin-to-skin contact, rooming-in, use of test-weighing and minimizing use of pacifiers are positively associated with exclusive breastfeeding of preterm infants, whereas use of nipple shields is negatively associated.

AIM: To test whether a training program for neonatal nurses with a focus on these six breastfeeding-supportive clinical practices affects the rate of preterm infants exclusively breastfed at discharge to home, the postmenstrual age at establishment of exclusive breastfeeding, and maternal self-reported use of the practice in the neonatal intensive care unit, the.

METHODS: A quasi-experimental multi-centre intervention study from 2016-2019 including a control group of 420 preterm mother-infant dyads, an intervention with a training program for neonatal nurses and implementation of weekly breastfeeding meetings for neonatal nurses, and an intervention group of 494 preterm mother-infant dyads.

RESULTS: Significantly more preterm infants in the intervention group were exclusively breastfed at discharge to home (66.6%) than in the control group (58.1%) p = 0.008. There was no significant difference in postmenstrual age at establishment of exclusive breastfeeding between control and intervention group (37.5 vs.37.8 weeks, p = 0.073). Compared to the control group the number of infants continuing daily skin-to-skin contact after incubator care increased (83.2% vs. 88.3%, p = 0.035), infants using a nipple shield decreased (61.8% vs. 54.2%, p = 0.029), and the number of mothers initiating breast milk expression before six hours post-partum increased (32.6% vs. 42.4%, p = 0.007). There was a significant correlation between percentage of neonatal nurses participating in the breastfeeding training program and changes in exclusive breastfeeding rates (Pearson Correlation 0.638, p = 0.047).

CONCLUSION: Exclusive breastfeeding rates in preterm infants and maternal self-reported use of breastfeeding-supportive practices increased by training neonatal nurses in the six clinical practices. It is important to include all nurses in the breastfeeding training program to ensure positive effect on exclusive breastfeeding rates.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0245273
JournalPLoS One
Volume16
Issue number2
ISSN1932-6203
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

ID: 62031883