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Breastfeeding, Health Facility Environment, Interruptions, Postpartum Period.



  1. Morrison, Barbara PhD, RN, FNP, CNM
  2. Ludington-Hoe, Susan PhD, RN, CNM, FAAN


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.