The experience of breastfeeding the late preterm infant: A qualitative study

Laura Kair, Valerie J. Flaherman, Kathryn A. Newby, Tarah T. Colaizy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Background: Breastfeeding confers several health advantages to both infants and mothers. For reasons that are multifactorial, infants born even a few weeks prematurely are less likely to initiate breastfeeding, and those who breastfeed do so for a shorter duration than term infants. Materials and Methods: Qualitative analysis of structured telephone interviews was used to examine the breastfeeding experience of mothers of late preterm infants. Results: Our study found that, among mothers of late preterm infants, breastfeeding is both a positive bonding experience and a challenging experience, fraught with physical and medical struggles and feelings of guilt and failure. When looking back at the breastfeeding experience, many mothers recount negative experiences of milk supply concerns and breast pumping and report aspiring to be able to feed at breast more and pump less with their next child. Conclusions: Mothers of late preterm infants reported that breastfeeding was a bonding experience for themselves and their infants, and many plan to do it again if they have future children. However, these mothers also reported that their breastfeeding experience included challenges with latching and milk supply, inadequate lactation support from providers after hospital discharge, and feelings of failure. Interventions with the potential to improve the breastfeeding experience of mothers of late preterm infants include (1) nipple shields and other devices to assist with latching, (2) hand expression or supplementation with small volumes of donor milk or formula to help limit the burden of pumping, (3) provider education to improve lactation support after hospital discharge, and (4) peer support groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-106
Number of pages5
JournalBreastfeeding Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics
  • Health Policy
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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