Research helping mums sustain breastfeeding

Breast milk has unique qualities that can protect babies from ear infections, vomiting, diarrhoea, chest infections, and asthma. However, some mothers of preterm infants can face challenges initiating and sustaining breastfeeding within the Hospital prior to taking their baby home.

When a baby is born early, they can face extra challenges breastfeeding because they cannot often feed directly at the breast. Breastfeeding rates in babies born late preterm are lower than those born at term. For mothers with late preterm babies cared for at Women’s and Children’s Hospital (WCH), breastfeeding initiation is over 90-95% and decreases to 77% by discharge home.

Current research, funded by the WCH Foundation and conducted by Dr Amy Keir, aims to establish improved supports for breastfeeding women with late preterm babies to increase these rates. Led by Dr Keir, the multidisciplinary team includes Lactation Consultants Susie Jones, Laura Summers and Jess Ramsay who are also nurses and/or midwives from the WCH.

Investing in research to increase breastfeeding rates.

The research has shaped a greater understanding of the challenges families and healthcare professionals face in providing breastmilk to babies born early and how to overcome them.

Dr Keir explains, “Preliminary results show that the project has already positively impacted clinical practice with the development of improved sustainable systems and is showing improvement in breastfeeding rates of babies on discharge from the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.”

This study is one of many we have supported aiming to improve the health and wellbeing of women, children and families under the care of the WCH.

To help us continue to invest in health and medical research in South Australia, click here.

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