Not feeding, not coming home: Parental experiences of infant feeding difficulties and family relationships in a neonatal unit

Michelle Swift, Ingrid Scholten

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    27 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Aim. This study had two main objectives: (1) to describe the experiences of parents who had a child in the Flinders Medical Centre neonatal unit with a feeding difficulty at 36 weeks gestational age and (2) to develop a preliminary model from the data as an account of the parents' experiences to identify considerations for future and current neonatal unit staff. Background. Family centred care is an important part of nursing practice. Research looking individually at the neonatal unit experience and childhood feeding difficulties has found that they can be stressful situations for parents. However, very little research has been conducted into parental experiences of feeding infants in a neonatal unit and there is no known research which has specifically looked at the effect on parents of having a child with a feeding difficulty in a neonatal unit. Design. A qualitative phenomenological research design was employed. Method. Nine parents whose children had feeding difficulties while in the Flinders Medical Centre neonatal unit, South Australia, participated via retrospective in-depth interviews. Results. Responses were coded to describe parents' experiences and a preliminary model was proposed to explain the data. The main theme linking parental experiences was the desire to take the baby home. The feeding difficulty prevented this from occurring, shifting the feeding interaction from one of relationship development to one of weight gain. Conclusion. This research identifies trigger points that may be acted on to encourage positive parent-child feeding interactions. Relevance to clinical practice. Family centred care is encouraged in paediatric nursing practice. This research identifies trigger points which may inform clinical practice involving parents of infants with feeding difficulties.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)249-258
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
    Volume19
    Issue number1-2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010

    Keywords

    • Family care
    • Feeding difficulty
    • Infant
    • Neonatal care
    • Parenting
    • Qualitative study

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