Privacy a problem for mothers of newborns in neonatal intensive care units, study finds

January 16, 2013, Case Western Reserve University

Many mothers of newborns in neonatal intensive care units have difficulty finding private, quiet places in the hospital to express milk, according to a new study from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University.

The lack of privacy—if it causes mothers to miss feedings or makes them too timid to express milk—is an even greater health risk for low-weight , because milk enriched with the mother's antibodies helps ward off infection and .

"The meaning of privacy might differ for mothers and the hospital. This calls for new ways to create privacy for these mothers who want to breastfeed," said Donna Dowling, the lead researcher from the CWRU nursing school. Dowling and Mary Ann Blatz, a doctorate of nurse practice student and lactation consultant, collaborated on the study reported in the journal Advances in Neonatal Care article, "Mothers' Experiences Expressing Breast Milk for their ."

The study surveyed 40 —15 in multiple-bed NICU rooms and 25 in single-family rooms.

Dowling, a Case Western Reserve professor and an advocate for breastfeeding, expected mothers in the single-family NICUs would find the process easier, quieter and more private than those in multi-family units.

But they didn't. The new moms overwhelmingly reported they would rather express breast milk at home, citing privacy and comfort concerns.

New mothers need to express milk eight to 10 times daily for 15 to 20 minutes in a newborn's first weeks, and six to eight times a day to maintain the milk supply after that.

The mothers said that possible interruptions while pumping kept them from starting pumping for fear of missing progress reports during a doctor's rounds. Missing the meeting might mean waiting hours before being able to meet with the doctor again. The respondents also felt uncomfortable expressing milk in front of the doctor or groups of doctors making rounds, Dowling reports.

Of the 40 mothers, 75 percent said before giving birth that they planned to breastfeed. But when their babies were discharged, only 45 percent breastfed their babies exclusively.

Interruptions and privacy weren't the only concerns, though. Mothers with newborns in NICU who must also juggle family, home and work responsibilities also found it difficult to meet their pre-birth aspirations to breastfeed their newborns exclusively.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends feeding babies breast milk exclusively for the first six months of life, with continued breastfeeding until at least 12 months.

Explore further: Manual breast milk expression better than breast pump for poor feeders

Related Stories

Manual breast milk expression better than breast pump for poor feeders

July 19, 2011
Expressing breast milk by hand in the first days after birth is better for boosting breastfeeding rates among poorly feeding newborns than the use of a breast pump, indicates a small study published online in the Archives ...

Researcher urges study of effects of breast pumps

July 7, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- The widespread use of electric breast pumps by American women is fueling a "quiet revolution" in how infants receive their mothers' milk, argues Cornell nutritionist Kathleen Rasmussen in a commentary ...

German doctors warn against Internet trade in breast milk

October 16, 2012
German pediatricians have warned new parents against obtaining breast milk to feed their babies via social networking sites such as Facebook, cautioning the milk could be harmful.

Explainer: why mothers should breastfeed

August 2, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Breast milk is one of the most important components of infant care. It provides complete nutrition and helps to prevent and fight infections. And it’s also safer – in much of the world, artificial ...

Recommended for you

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

Your dishwasher is not as sterile as you think

January 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Your dishwasher may get those plates spotless, but it is also probably teeming with bacteria and fungus, a new study suggests.

Study reveals what sleep talkers have to say

January 12, 2018
A team of researchers with members from several institutions in France has conducted a study regarding sleep talking and has found that most sleep talking is not only negative in nature, but involves a large amount of swearing. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.