Breast milk expression and maintenance in mothers of very low birth weight infants: supports and barriers

J Hum Lact. 2010 Nov;26(4):368-75. doi: 10.1177/0890334410371211. Epub 2010 Oct 7.


The study objective was to identify patterns of factors that supported or hindered initiation of breast milk expression and maintenance of breast milk production after the birth of a very low birth weight (VLBW) infant in a sample of US women with varied prenatal infant feeding intentions. In-depth interviews were conducted 1 to 6 months after delivery in 32 women who initiated breast milk expression after encouragement from hospital staff. Pregnancy complications, anxiety regarding their infant's health, and lack of privacy interfered with initiation of milk expression. After hospital discharge, using manual or small electric breast pumps, travel to the neonatal intensive care unit, return to work, and difficulty with time management interfered with maintenance of breast milk production. Family support, positive attitudes toward pumping, and anticipation of breastfeeding supported maintenance of breast milk production. From these data emerge points of intervention where additional support could improve mothers' experiences and increase duration of breast milk feeding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / prevention & control
  • Breast Feeding / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight
  • Lactation
  • Male
  • Milk, Human / metabolism*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Social Support*
  • Suction / instrumentation*
  • Women, Working / psychology
  • Young Adult