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AWHONN, Breastfeeding, Healthcare rationing, Hospital, Maternal-child nursing, Missed care, Nurse staffing, Nursing care standards



  1. Simpson, Kathleen Rice PhD, RNC, CNS-BC, FAAN
  2. Lyndon, Audrey PhD, RNC, FAAN
  3. Spetz, Joanne PhD
  4. Gay, Caryl L. PhD
  5. Landstrom, Gay L. PhD, RN, NEA-BC


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine associations between missed nursing care and nurse staffing during labor and birth, and exclusive breast milk feeding at hospital discharge.


Study Design and Methods: Labor and birth nurses in three states were surveyed about missed nursing care and their maternity units' adherence to the AWHONN (2010) nurse staffing guidelines for care during labor and birth, using the Perinatal Misscare Survey. Nursing responses were aggregated to the hospital level and estimated associations between missed nursing care, nurse staffing, and hospitals' exclusive breast milk feeding rates were measured using The Joint Commission's Perinatal Care Measure (PC-05).


Results: Surveys from 512 labor nurses in 36 hospitals were included in the analysis. The mean exclusive breast milk feeding rate was 53% (range 13%-76%). Skin-to-skin care, breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth, and appropriate recovery care were on average occasionally missed (2.33 to 2.46 out of 4; 1 = rarely, 2 = occasionally, 3 = frequently, or 4 = always) and were associated with PC-05 [B(CI) -17.1(-29, -6.3), -17.9(-30.5, -6.2), and -15.4(-28.7, -2.1), respectively]. Adherence with overall staffing guidelines was associated with PC-05 [12.9(3.4, 24.3)]. Missed nursing care was an independent predictor of PC-05 [-14.6(-26.4, -2.7)] in a multilevel model adjusting for staffing guideline adherence, perceived quality, mean age of respondents, and nurse burnout.


Clinical Implications: Exclusive breast milk feeding is a national quality indicator of inpatient maternity care. Nurses have substantial responsibility for direct support of infant feeding during the childbirth hospitalization. These results support exclusive breast milk feeding (PC-05) as a nurse-sensitive quality indicator.