I am currently attached to the pediatric department of a hospital. This wing has the maternity ward and New Born Unit (NBU). I have come to identify an issue that needs to be addressed for the proper nursing care of the new mother. This is the lack of breastfeeding support of new mothers and its effect on the duration of breastfeeding.
To adequately understand the problem, one needs to conduct an observation in the maternity wing of the hospital. This observation is to be carried out the moment new mothers are being reunited with their newborn children at the time when the child takes his or her first suckle. It was observed that at this time the new mothers were not given proper breastfeeding support and this may hurt the breastfeeding experience and its duration (Ricci & Kyle, 2009)
This problem stems from the absence of proper policies on post-birth care of the new mother. The nursing care team, in most cases, is understaffed and as a result not every new mother is given the appropriate attention. Furthermore, at night the number of staff available is less hence not able to comfortably give adequate care to all the new mothers. In addition, there is a misconception that some mothers who decide to bottle-feed their children in the future are considered not to require breastfeeding support. This creates a situation of lack of breastfeeding support to such mothers.
Furthermore, some young mothers are afraid to start breastfeeding with the fear that their breasts would sag. Cosmetically this is an issue for them. In consequence of this, they are uncooperative with any kind of breastfeeding support accorded. It was also noticed that on discharge, the new mothers were not given proper information on finding support groups outside the hospital. The lack of breastfeeding support has an impact on both the mother and her child. Most mothers, who do not receive support, tend to stop breastfeeding before the recommended period ends. Supplementing breast milk with artificial formulas immediately after birth in hospitals is a common practice though is not evidence-based and this reduces the duration of breastfeeding.
The quality of care provided in terms of breastfeeding support is not up to current standards since in most cases there is little follow-up on the new mothers after discharge. Because of this, patient outcomes are sub-optimal. An example is a situation where mothers develop sore nipples and associate it with the frequency of breastfeeding and in turn, decline to breastfeed their babies in the hope that the soreness will subside, hence the need for adequate breastfeeding support.
The issue of lack of breastfeeding support is significant to the overall well-being of the mother and her baby. This is because, without proper knowledge, the new mother is unable to deal with the many challenges involved throughout the whole period of breastfeeding such as clogged breasts, nipple discomfort, and appropriate breastfeeding positions. Without proper knowledge and support, the breastfeeding process is prematurely terminated and this is detrimental to the growth and development of the baby.
To resolve this issue, the hospital needs to increase its staff numbers to effectively attend to all new mothers all round the clock. Furthermore, proper policies on effective breastfeeding support should be formulated and implemented for adequate care and proper duration of breastfeeding. The new mothers on discharge should be encouraged to form peer groups or get involved with a lactation consultant to effectively breastfeed their babies for the required duration.
Carranza-Lira, S. & Mera, P.J. (2002). Influences on total pregnancies and total breastfeeding time on bone mineral density. International Journal of Fertility, 47(4), 168-170.
Genna, C.W. (2007). Supporting sucking skills in breastfeeding infants. Sudbury, MA Jones & Bartlett.
Ricci, S.S., & Kyle, T (2009). Maternity and pediatric nursing. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.