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Interruptions to Breastfeeding Dyads in an DRP Unit

Morrison, Barbara PhD, RN, FNP, CNM; Ludington-Hoe, Susan PhD, RN, CNM, FAAN

MCN, American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing: January/February 2012 - Volume 37 - Issue 1 - p 36–41
doi: 10.1097/NMC.0b013e31823851d5
Feature Article

Purpose: The critical period for establishing breastfeeding (BF) is during the first days after birth. However, some routine maternity unit care practices may be experienced as interruptions interfering with BF opportunities and satisfaction. Therefore, we wanted to describe the frequency and duration of interruptions; amount of time alone; number, length, success of, and satisfaction with BF sessions; and maternal perceptions of the influence of interruptions on BF experiences in an LDR unit on postpartum day 1 (PD1).

Study Design and Methods: For 12 hours on PD1 we continuously observed the door to the rooms of 30 mother–newborn dyads in a community hospital birthing center. We recorded duration of visit by each person entering the room. Length of BF and maternal perception of success and satisfaction were measured after each feeding and at the end of the day using visual analog scales.

Results: One thousand five hundred ninety-three interruptions (53 ± 13.4/dyad, range 27–85) and 703 episodes of time alone (23 ± 5.5/dyad, range 11–32) occurred across 360 hours of observation. Duration of interruptions and time alone were 18.5 ± 34.5 and 15.4 ± 17.3 minutes, respectively. However, median duration of interruptions was 5 minutes and of time alone 10 minutes. One hundred thirty-eight BF sessions were recorded (2–9 sessions) and lasted 25 ±14.98 minutes. Perceived maternal success and satisfaction with BFs were moderate, and interruptions only marginally interfered with BF opportunities.

Clinical Implications: Too many interruptions occur and mothers perceive them as interfering with BF. Therefore, interruptions need to be minimized.

We all want to increase the rates of breastfeeding. Would it help if we decreased the number of times breastfeeding women were interrupted while they were breastfeeding in the hospital?

Barbara Morrison is an Associate Professor at The Breen School of Nursing, Ursuline College, Pepper Pike, OH. She can be reached via e-mail at

Susan Ludington-Hoe is a Carl W. and Margaret Davis Professor of Pediatric Nursing, Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH.

Case Western Reserve Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing Research Incentive Grant and a Foundation of Neonatal Research and Education (FNRE) grant to the first author.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

© 2012 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.