Background: Breastfeeding has been shown to result in extensive physical and psychological benefits for both the mother and the newborn. However, the rate and duration of exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) remains low worldwide. Mother-infant skin-to-skin contact (SSC) immediately after birth has demonstrated results that support the argument for breastfeeding continuation. Research aim: This study aimed to investigate the prevalence of EBF 3 months postpartum and the effect of early SSC in maintaining optimal EBF practices for mothers and their healthy newborns.
Methods: We conducted an observational, retrospective study in Spain from 2013 to 2015. Pregnant women were interviewed immediately postpartum and again at 3 months postpartum regarding variables associated with breastfeeding initiation and continuation.
Results: There were 1,071 women recruited. Early SSC was performed in 92% of vaginal births but only 57% of urgent cesarean births. Of women breastfeeding at discharge, 69.5% performed SSC with their newborn. We found that 68.6% of women were exclusively breastfeeding by discharge and 46.7% by 3 months postpartum. Type of feeding at discharge, country of origin, and parity were found to be associated with each other ( p = .003, p = .001, respectively). Early SSC was also significantly associated with type of feeding at discharge, 1 month, 2 months, and 3 months postpartum ( p < .001). Hypogalactia (19.8%) was the most frequently reported factor for breastfeeding discontinuation.
Conclusion: Breastfeeding promotion interventions are likely to improve breastfeeding rates at 3 months postpartum. Social and economic factors should be taken into account when such programs are planned to be implemented.
Keywords: breastfeeding; breastfeeding rates; early skin-to-skin contact; early weaning; risk factors.