Background: Ensuring women receive optimal breastfeeding support is of key importance to the health of mothers and their infants. Early discharge within 24 h of birth is increasingly common across Australia, and the practice of postnatal home visiting varies between settings. The reduction in length of stay without expansion of home visits reduces midwives’ ability to support breastfeeding. The impact of early discharge on first-time mothers establishing breastfeeding was unknown. The study aim was to understand the experiences of first-time Australian mothers establishing breastfeeding when discharged from the hospital within 24 h of a normal vaginal birth. Methods: A qualitative interpretive method was used. Semi-structured interviews with 12 women following early discharge were conducted. Data were audio recorded, professionally transcribed, and subjected to a thematic analysis. Results: Three interconnected themes of ‘self-efficacy’, ‘support’ and ‘sustainability’ were identified. Self-efficacy influenced the women’s readiness and motivation to be discharged home early and played a role in how some of the mothers overcame breastfeeding challenges. Social, semi-professional and professional breastfeeding supports were key in women’s experiences. Sustainability referred to and describes what women valued in relation to continuation of their breastfeeding journey. Conclusion: This study found accessible people-based breastfeeding services in the community are valued following early discharge. Furthermore, there is demand for more evidence-based breastfeeding educational resources, potentially in the form of interactive applications or websites. Additionally, a focus on holistic and individualised breastfeeding assessment and care plans prior to discharge that link women with ongoing breastfeeding services is paramount.
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© 2020, The Author(s).
Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.
- Breastfeeding support
- Early discharge
- First-time mothers
- Postnatal care