1. Tully, Kristin P. PhD
  2. Holditch-Davis, Diane PhD, RN, FAAN
  3. Silva, Susan PhD
  4. Brandon, Debra PhD, RN, CNNS, FAAN


Background: Late preterm birth is associated with lower rates of breastfeeding and earlier breastfeeding cessation than term birth.


Purpose: The objectives of this secondary analysis were to compare the incidence of exclusive breastfeeding after late preterm and term childbirth and to examine the association between infant feeding outcomes and maternal emotional well-being.


Methods: Participants were 105 mother-infant dyads (54 late preterm and 51 term) at a southeastern US medical center. Face-to-face data collection and telephone follow-up occurred during 2009-2012.


Results: Late preterm mothers were less likely to exclusively provide their milk than were term mothers during hospitalization. Feeding at 1 month did not differ between late preterm and term infants. Among late preterm mothers, (1) formula supplementation during hospitalization was associated with greater severity of anxiety than among those exclusively providing formula and (2) exclusive provision of human milk at 1 month was associated with less severe depressive symptoms than among those supplementing or exclusively formula feeding. Among term mothers, feeding outcome was not related to emotional well-being measures at either time point.


Implications for Practice: Mothers of late preterm infants may particularly benefit from anticipatory guidance and early mental health screening, with integrated, multidisciplinary lactation teams to support these interrelated healthcare needs.


Implications for Research: Prospective research is critical to document women's intentions for infant feeding and how experiences with childbirth and the early postpartum period impact achievement of their breastfeeding goals.