Objective: to explore the relationship between maternity hospital practices and breast feeding self-efficacy.
Design: the data were collected using a cross-sectional survey. The study is a part of a larger longitudinal research and development project called 'Urban parenthood'.
Setting: three urban maternity hospitals in Southern Finland.
Participants: altogether 1400 questionnaires were given out and 573 primiparous and multiparous women completed the questionnaire within a week after childbirth. The response rate was 41%.
Findings: early and successful initiation of breast feeding, rooming-in and exclusive breast feeding during the hospital stay were associated with higher maternal breast feeding self-efficacy in both primiparous and multiparous women. The reason (medical or non-medical), frequency or method (bottle or cup) for supplementation was not associated with breast feeding self-efficacy.
Key conclusion and implications for practice: breast feeding experiences during the immediate postpartum period have an association with breast feeding self-efficacy. Mothers who are not able to initiate breast feeding within an hour after birth or whose infants are supplemented during the hospital stay may benefit from additional support and breast feeding counselling.
Keywords: Breast feeding; Hospital practices; Self-efficacy.
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