Breastfeeding initiation and support: A literature review of what women value and the impact of early discharge

Lucy James, Linda Sweet, Roslyn Donnellan-Fernandez

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    20 Citations (Scopus)


    Problem Early discharge following birth has become an emerging phenomenon in many countries. It is likely early discharge has an impact on the establishment of breastfeeding. Objective To critically appraise the evidence on what women value in relation to breastfeeding initiation and support, and investigate the impact early discharge can have on these values. Method A literature search was conducted for publications since 2005 using the following databases: Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Medline, Scopus and PsycINFO; 21 primary articles were selected and included in the review. Findings There is no standard definition for ‘early discharge’ worldwide. Due to inconsistent definitions worldwide and minimal literature using a 24 h definition, research defining early discharge as up to 72 h postpartum is included. Seven key factors in relation to breastfeeding initiation and support following early discharge were identified, namely trust and security, consistent advice, practical breastfeeding support, breastfeeding education, comfortable environment, positive attitudes and emotional support, and individualised care. Conclusion The findings suggest individualised postnatal lengths of stay may be beneficial for the initiation of breastfeeding. Five values were not impacted by early discharge, but rather individual midwives’ practice. There is consensus in the literature that early discharge promoted a comfortable environment to support breastfeeding initiation. Wide variations in the definition of early postnatal discharge made it difficult to draw influential conclusions. Therefore, further research is required.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)87-99
    Number of pages13
    JournalWomen and Birth
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


    • Breastfeeding
    • Early discharge
    • Initiation or establish
    • Length of stay
    • Postnatal care


    Dive into the research topics of 'Breastfeeding initiation and support: A literature review of what women value and the impact of early discharge'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this