A comparative study of breast feeding after traditional postnatal hospital care and early discharge

Midwifery. 1996 Jun;12(2):85-92. doi: 10.1016/s0266-6138(96)90005-4.


Objective: To provide quality assurance for the care plan and working structure within the early discharge unit at the Women's Clinic, Central Hospital, Helsingborg, Sweden.

Design: Survey, using postal questionnaire.

Setting: The Women's Clinic, Central Hospital, Helsingborg, Sweden.

Participants: 304 women with babies of six months of age, delivered at the Central Hospital, Helsingborg, between September and December 1993 and who, together with their baby, met the criteria for early discharge. Early discharge is generally defined in Sweden as discharge before 72 hours postpartum.

Measurements and findings: Of the participants 41% chose early discharge (ED) and 59% chose traditional hospital care (THC). Four groups were studied for breast feeding frequency - THC primiparae, ED primiparae, THC multiparae and ED multiparae. Further division was made for breast feeding at 2, 4 and 6 months of age. The four main groups were examined for demographic differences. A difference was found in education level; early discharge mothers had a lower level of education than THC mothers. No significant difference was found for the frequency or duration of breast feeding between the early discharge and the traditional hospital care groups, despite the higher education level in the traditional hospital care group.

Implications for practice: A possible explanation for this finding is that a care plan aimed at supporting the individual's responsibility and participation, providing relevant knowledge and a subliminal communication of trust in the competence of parent and child, is of particular significance for women with less education. The presence and participation of the baby's father at an early stage may also be a factor.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mothers* / education
  • Mothers* / psychology
  • Parity
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Patient Participation
  • Postnatal Care / methods*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden