Background: Training programs are commonly viewed as an effective way to improve breastfeeding-related practices of health professionals. The objective of this study was to determine whether a 3-day training program for maternity ward professionals was followed by an increase in duration of any breastfeeding.
Methods: A before-and-after study was conducted involving two retrospective random samples of 308 mothers who had delivered a healthy singleton infant of 37 weeks' or more gestation and 2,500 g or more birthweight in a level 3 maternity ward in a university hospital in France. Data were gathered from medical records and postal questionnaire.
Results: Study participants included 169 mothers (54.9%) in the pre-intervention sample and 178 (57.8%) in the post-intervention sample. The prevalence of any breastfeeding at birth was 77.5 percent (70.5%-83.6%) in the pre-intervention sample and 82.6 percent (76.2%-87.8%) in the post-intervention sample(p=0.24); the median duration of any breastfeeding was 13 weeks and 16 weeks, respectively(chi2 log-rank test=5.8, p=0.02). The decreased risk of weaning in the post-intervention sample persisted after adjustment for baseline characteristics (adjusted hazard ratio=0.70 [0.54-0.91]). It was paralleled by significant improvement in maternity ward practices that are known to affect the duration of breastfeeding.
Conclusion: An intensive 3-day training program for maternity ward professionals can be followed by a significant but moderate increase in the duration of any breastfeeding. Multifaceted interventions involving prenatal components and community support should be planned in Western countries with low to intermediate prevalence of breastfeeding.