Promoting and Supporting Breast-Feeding

Promoting and Supporting Breast-Feeding

Jay Moreland

The family physician can significantly influence a mother’s decision to breast-feed. Prenatal support, hospital management and subsequent pediatric and maternal visits are all-important components of breast-feeding promotion. Prenatal encouragement increases breast-feeding rates and identifies potential problem areas. Hospital practices should focus on rooming-in, early and frequent breast-feeding, skilled support and avoidance of artificial nipples, pacifiers and formula. Infant follow-up should be two to four days postdischarge, with liberal use of referral and support groups, including lactation consultants and peer counselors. (Am Fam Physician 2000;61:2093-100,2103-4.)

Breast-feeding is the best form of nutrition for infants.(1,2) Family physicians can have a significant impact on the initiation and maintenance of breast-feeding, if they have sufficient knowledge of breast-feeding benefits and the necessary clinical management skills or habits.(3) In one recent study,(4) only 25 percent of mothers reported discussing breast-feeding with health care professionals at the two-week visit. This same study demonstrated that encouragement by health professionals could have a significant impact on breast-feeding rates. Unfortunately, family physicians are no better than their peers in other specialties in promoting breast-feeding.(5) In this article, we present strategies for the family physician to promote and support breast-feeding.

To effectively promote breast-feeding, the physician should educate all prospective mothers about the health benefits of breast-feeding as well as the risks associated with formula (Table 1).(1-11) The protective benefits of breast-feeding are confirmed in studies performed in industrialized and developing countries, as well as across all socioeconomic strata.(12) Discussing other concerns can also be useful in promoting breast-feeding (Tables 213-16 and 3).

Prenatal Care


Breast-feeding should be discussed at the first and subsequent prenatal visits. Most women will have made a decision about breast-feeding early in pregnancy.(17) Breast-feeding education that is given repeatedly in person can have a significant influence on breast-feeding outcomes and appears to be superior to only postnatal support or only telephone support.(18)

The topic should be introduced with an open-ended statement such as, “Have you thought about how to feed your baby?” Tailor answers to the patient’s background and use the opportunity to mention the risks associated with bottle-feeding (Table 1). Any history of early weaning or breast-feeding problems in previous pregnancies is predictive of future difficulty and should be discussed with the patient and noted on the prenatal record.(19) A checklist that will ensure that all concerns are addressed should be an integral part of the prenatal record (Figure 1).

Prenatal Breast-Feeding Promotion Checklist

Check all of the following that apply:

Past breast-feeding history

[] Length of time each baby was breast-fed:

[] Length of time each baby was exclusively breast-fed:

[] Initial breast-feeding problems: sore nipples, sleepy baby:

[] Subsequent problems: early weaning, nipple confusion:

[] Family history of breast-feeding problems:

Current pregnancy

[] Concerns of mother (see Table 3):

[] Knowledge base of mother (see Table 2):

[] Plans for work or school:

[] Plans for pumping breasts:

[] Plans for supplementation:

[] When, if at all, patient plans to introduce bottle:

[] Name(s) of support persons:

[] Promote prenatal lactation classes:

[] Record breast-feeding problems on chart with plan

for referral and follow-up:

FIGURE 1. A checklist that can be used in the prenatal stage

to promote breast-feeding.


The physical examination is an opportunity to reassure the patient that her breasts are normal and that she will likely have no trouble producing enough milk. Inverted or flattened nipples can be ruled out by compressing below the areola to see if the nipple everts. Breast shells should not be used in the third trimester to promote correction of inverted nipples because their use has actually been shown to reduce the success of breast-feeding.(20) In the same study, exercises to evert the nipples were shown to have no effect on breast-feeding success.

Potential problems should be noted on the prenatal record, along with a plan for consultation with a lactation specialist.


Support from a significant other has been identified as the most important factor for those who chose to bottle-feed.(21) The patient’s support person should be included in breast-feeding promotion efforts at every office visit. Knowing the mother’s family and cultural background can assist the clinician in counseling the mother about breast-feeding.(22) Women who are poor, less educated, less than 20 years of age or from a minority or immigrant background are less likely to choose to breast-feed. Whoever comes to the prenatal visits with the mother is likely to be important in her decision to breast-feed.

Positive messages about breast-feeding should be evident in the physician’s office. Staff should be trained to provide basic breast-feeding help. Literature and posters that promote breast-feeding can be prominently displayed in the office. All magazines and literature in the waiting room can be examined to ensure that there are no unwanted advertisements or promotions of formula. A recent study(23) showed that most physicians’ offices distribute materials that violate the World Health Organization’s International Code on the Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes (Table 4). A good source of materials that are available in English and other languages can be obtained from the local Women, Infants and Children (WIC) office, and examples are summarized in Table 5.

Hospital Care

Hospital routines significantly affect breast-feeding.(24) The World Health Organization (WHO), in conjunction with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has published a hospital breast-feeding policy called the Baby Friendly Initiative.(25) The policy is intended for use in hospitals worldwide and is addressed to all personnel having patient-care responsibilities. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports this initiative and has published guidelines for the pediatrician that reiterate the same recommendations and expand on them.(26) Although the American Academy of Family Physicians has a policy statement supporting breast-feeding, the group does not have published standards for the management of breast-feeding. The 12 recommendations in this article (Table 6) reinforce the guidelines from WHO and AAP, and are designed for the family physician to use during prenatal and postnatal care.


New mothers should initiate breast-feeding as soon as possible after giving birth. When mothers initiate breast-feeding within one-half hour of birth, the baby’s suckling reflex is strongest, and the baby is more alert.(27) Early breast-feeding is associated with fewer nighttime feeding problems and better mother-infant communication.(28) Babies who are put to breast earlier have been shown to have higher core temperatures and less temperature instability.(29)


Nipple confusion occurs when a baby has not had the opportunity to establish the correct mouth movements for proper breast-feeding. Early and subsequent use of pacifiers, water, glucose water and formula supplementation have been shown to promote early weaning and nipple confusion.(30,31) The frequent use of an artificial nipple early in life has been shown to promote a less effective mouth movement; this was demonstrated with ultrasonography over a decade ago.(32) For this reason, the physician should encourage the staff and the patient to address breast-feeding problems first, with direct observation of breast-feeding, before considering the use of supplementation.

A woman with normal breasts produces sufficient colostrum during the last trimester and at delivery to sustain twins or a large term baby until her milk comes in. With few exceptions, studies(1,30) have shown that formula samples in infant discharge packs shorten the duration of breast-feeding. For this reason, materials consistent with the WHO code(33) should replace commercial discharge packs (Table 4).


Rooming-in and breast-feeding on demand should be an integral part of routine postpartum care. Breast-feeding “on demand” means feeding when the baby shows early signs of hunger, such as the rooting reflex, or when the baby is awake and his or her hands are coming to the mouth. Rooming-in allows mothers to respond to feeding cues much more effectively than a busy nurse could. Breast-feeding on demand promotes more frequent feeding, which prevents sore nipples, breast engorgement and early weaning.(34)

Supporting Breast-feeding Postpartum


The AAP recommends a follow-up visit with an evaluation of breast-feeding at two to four days postdischarge for most newborns.(26) Detailed questions can prevent unintended weaning. Inadvertent weaning can occur because suckling on the bottle is easier, and milk comes out faster. A decrease in milk supply because of decreased suckling at the breast further worsens the cycle. Anticipatory guidance (Table 7) that can help prevent this problem would include informing parents that growth spurts frequently occur at two to three weeks, three months and six months of age but can occur at any time. Witnessed breast-feeding is an important part of follow-up because many breast-feeding problems are caused by improper latch-on or positioning that can be detected and corrected(35) (Figure 2).


Although attempts have been made to quantify breast-feeding effectiveness using an observer and a numerical score, the reliability of such tools versus electronic scale data has been questioned.(36,37) A randomized controlled trial(38) recently showed that weighing the infant can be accurate if an electronic scale is used. Mechanical scales are inadequate to this task. Care should be taken to weigh the baby wearing only a fresh diaper for the pre-feeding weight, with the same diaper being on the baby for the postfeeding weight.

The baby should be given credit for 20 calories per 30 g of weight gain, although breast milk can have higher caloric content, especially milk expressed for premature babies by their mothers.(2) Babies should lose no more than 8 percent of their body weight after birth and should follow the appropriate weight curve thereafter (Table 8).


Although prenatal education has been shown to affect the breast-feeding decision, in-hospital lectures alone do not measurably influence breast-feeding duration or satisfaction.(39) What is more important to success is direct, one-on-one observation and assistance of the breast-feeding mother and child by a knowledgeable person, a certified lactation consultant(40) or a peer counselor. Routine use of a lactation consultant after discharge in a general practice setting has been shown to be effective in prolonging breast-feeding.(41)

Referrals should be made for nearly all cases of severe nipple erosion, relactation, milk supply problems, failure to thrive, multiple infants, premature babies and any problem that does not respond quickly to support by the family physician. Certified lactation consultants have been shown to be of benefit in routine use with low-risk patients, whether measuring clinical outcome, patient satisfaction or costs.(42) Referral sources are listed in Table 5.


Expressing breast milk is a skill that should be taught to all new mothers. Mothers should be encouraged to use only breast milk, not formula, when using bottles.

Bottle-feeding should be delayed for three to four weeks to prevent nipple confusion and early weaning.(30) After this time, nipple confusion and premature weaning seem to be less of a problem if bottles are limited to about one per day.(43) The clinician should routinely discuss bottle use and the issue of nipple confusion before discharge.


The decision to supplement should weigh the immediate clinical benefit with the long-term risks (Table 1). When the mother is available to feed the baby, the supplementation method used should simulate full breast-feeding as much as possible.(2) With the baby at the breast during supplementation, nipple stimulation occurs, promoting better milk supply while preventing nipple confusion. The supplemental nursing system (Figure 3) and the periodontal syringe (Figure 4) allow the baby to be at the breast while supplementation is administered and are the preferred methods to use with the baby at the breast. Finger-, spoon- and cup-feeding are all alternatives to bottle-feeding that can be effectively used in the mother’s absence.(33) Before prescribing alternative feeding methods, the physician should ensure that the staff members employing them have been properly trained. If an infant is being fed by gavage, it is better to supplement by mixing breast milk with formula because the breast milk contains lipases that help with fat absorption.(44) In some situations it may be impossible for the mother to breast-feed. Discussions should be supportive so as not to induce guilt or depression.


Banked milk should be considered when supplementation is necessary. Since the advent of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, banked milk is now pasteurized, and donors are screened for HIV, hepatitis and syphilis. Although a few biologically active components of human milk are lost in the pasteurization process, recent studies show minimal or no changes in such important components as fat content and antibacterial properties.(45)


When a mother or an infant is hospitalized, lactation should be continued if possible. At these times it is important to ask the mother in detail about her breast-feeding practices. Breast-feeding counseling when a baby is hospitalized for diarrhea has a positive effect on the rate of exclusive breast-feeding and prevents the continuation of diarrhea after discharge.(18)

We have found that a careful history taken during admission to the hospital can uncover unintended weaning. Lactation consultation during the hospitalization can help a mother resume later on.

Final Comment

Breast-feeding has proved to be superior to artificial supplements for medical, financial, social and psychologic reasons. Nevertheless, some patients and a few clinicians subscribe to the concept that formula is as good as breast milk, or at least that it is “good enough.” However, formula increases health risks to children when it unnecessarily replaces breast milk. The health care professional can play a key role in preventing illnesses by effectively supporting lactation.

The promotion and support of lactation should be a high priority for family physicians. To be effective in this effort, the clinician should focus on the issue from the preconception stage through pregnancy and delivery, and continue in subsequent infant care.

JAY MORELAND, M.D., is an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine. He is also the education director at the Northwest Community Health Center and Family Practice Residency site in Salt Lake City. Dr. Moreland received a medical degree from the University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles, and completed a residency in family practice at the McKay-Dee Hospital and the University of Utah Family Practice Residency, in Ogden, Utah. He is a member of the International Lactation Consultant Association.

JENNIFER COOMBS, P.A.-C., is director of admissions at the University of Utah Physician Assistant Program. She works clinically in family practice at the Northwest Community Health Center. Ms. Coombs received her physician assistant degree from the University of Utah School of Medicine. She is an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant. Address correspondence to Jay Moreland, M.D., Northwest Community Health Center, 1365 W. 1000 North, Salt Lake City, Utah 84116. Reprints are not available from the authors.


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(2.) Riordan J, Auerbach KG. In: Breastfeeding and human lactation. 2d ed. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett, 1999.

(3.) Freed GL, Clark SJ, Sorenson J, Lohr JA, Cefalo R, Curtis P. National assessment of physicians’ breast-feeding knowledge, attitudes, training, and experience. JAMA 1995;273:472-6.

(4.) Humenick SS, Hill PD, Spiegelberg PL. Breastfeeding and health professional encouragement. J Hum Lact 1998;14:305-10.

(5.) Freed GL, Clark SJ, Curtis P, Sorenson JR. Breast-feeding education and practice in family medicine. J Fam Pract 1995;40:263-9.

(6.) Pisacane A, Graziano L, Mazzarella G, Scarpellino B, Zona G. Breast-feeding and urinary tract infection. J Pediatr 1992;120:87-9.

(7.) Corrao G, Tragnone A, Caprilli R, Trallori G, Papi C, Andreoli A, et al. Risk of inflammatory bowel disease attributable to smoking, oral contraception and breastfeeding in Italy: a nationwide case-control study. Cooperative Investigators of the Italian Group for the Study of the Colon and the Rectum (GISC). Int J Epidemiol 1998;27:397-404.

(8.) Pettitt DJ, Forman MR, Hanson RL, Knowler WC, Bennett PH. Breastfeeding and incidence of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in Pima Indians. Lancet 1997;13:203-8.

(9.) Davis MK. Review of the evidence for an association between infant feeding and childhood cancer. Int J Cancer Suppl 1998;11:29-33.

(10.) Silfverdal SA, Bodin L, Hugosson S, Garpenholt O, Werner B, Esbjorner E, et al. Protective effect of breastfeeding on invasive Haemophilus influenzae infection: a case-control study in Swedish preschool children. Int J Epidemiol 1997;26:443-50.

(11.) Hylander MA, Strobino DM, Dhanireddy R. Human milk feedings and infection among very low birth weight infants. Pediatrics 1998;102:E38.

(12.) Hanson LA. Breastfeeding provides passive and likely long-lasting active immunity. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 1998;81:523-34 [Published erratum in Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 1999;82:478].

(13.) Anderson JW, Johnstone BM, Remley DT. Breast-feeding and cognitive development: a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;70:525-35.

(14.) Newcomb PA, Storer BE, Longnecker MP, Mittendorf R, Greenberg ER, Clapp RW, et al. Lactation and a reduced risk of premenopausal breast cancer. N Engl J Med 1994;330:81-7.

(15.) Siskind B, Green A, Bain C, Purdie D. Breastfeeding, menopause, and epithelial ovarian cancer. Epidemiology 1997;8:188-91.

(16.) Kalkwarf HJ, Specker BL. Bone mineral loss during lactation and recovery after weaning. Obstet Gyn 1995;86:26-32.

(17.) Lawson K, Tulloch MI. Breastfeeding duration: prenatal intentions and postnatal practices. J Adv Nurs 1995;22:841-9.

(18.) Sikorski J, Renfrew MJ. Support for breastfeeding mothers. In: The Cochrane Library [on CD-ROM]. Oxford: Update Software;1999.

(19.) Da Vanzo J, Starbird E, Leibowitz A. Do women’s breastfeeding experiences with their first-borns affect whether they breastfeed their subsequent children? Soc Biol 1990;37:223-32.

(20.) Alexander JM, Grant AM, Campbell MJ. Randomised controlled trial of breast shells and Hoffman’s exercises for inverted and non-protractile nipples. BMJ 1992;304:1030-2.

(21.) Bar-Yam BN, Darby L. Fathers and breastfeeding: a review of the literature. J Hum Lact 1997;13:45-50.

(22.) Baranowski T, Bee DE, Rassin DK, Richardson CJ, Brown JP, Guenther N, et al. Social support, social influence, ethnicity and the breastfeeding decision. Soc Sci Med 1983;17:1599-611.

(23.) Valaitis RK, Sheeshka JD, O’Brien MF. Do consumer infant feeding publications and products available in physicians’ offices protect, promote, and support breastfeeding? J Hum Lact 1997;13:203-8.

(24.) Woolridge MW. Problems of establishing lactation. Food & Nutr Bull 1996;17:316-23.

(25.) WHO/UNICEF. Protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding: the special role of maternity services. A joint WHO/UNICEF statement. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 1990;31(suppl 1):171-83.

(26.) American Academy of Pediatrics, Work Group on Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics 1997;100:1035-9.

(27.) Widstrom AM, Wahlberg V, Matthiesen AS, Eneroth P, Uvnas-Moberg K, Werner S, et al. Short-term effects of early suckling and touch of the nipple on maternal behavior. Early Hum Dev 1990; 21:153-63.

(28.) Renfrew MJ, Lang S. Early versus delayed initiation of breastfeeding. In: The Cochrane Library [on CD-ROM]. Oxford: Update Software;1998.

(29.) Van den Bosch CA, Bullough CH. Effect of early suckling on term neonates’ core body temperature. Ann Trop Paediatr 1990;10:347-53.

(30.) Hill PD, Humenick SS, Brennan ML, Woolley D. Does early supplementation affect long-term breastfeeding? Clin Pediatr 1997;26:345-50.

(31.) Righard L, Alade MO. Breastfeeding and the use of pacifiers. Birth 1997;24:116-20.

(32.) Weber F, Woolridge MW, Baum JD. An ultrasonographic study of the organisation of sucking and swallowing by newborn infants. Dev Med Child Neurol 1986;28:19-24.

(33.) Lucey JF. Committee on Nutrition and the WHO code of marketing breast milk substitutes. Pediatrics 1981;68:430-1.

(34.) Newman J. Breastfeeding problems associated with the early introduction of bottles and pacifiers. J Hum Lact 1990;6:59-63.

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(36.) Riordan JM, Koehn M. Reliability and validity testing of three breastfeeding assessment tools. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs1997;26:181-7.

(37.) Meier PP, Engstrom JL, Crichton CL, Clark DR, Williams MM, Mangurten HH. A new scale for in-home test-weighing for mothers of preterm and high risk infants. J Hum Lact 1994;10:163-8.

(38.) Meier PP, Lysakowski TY, Engstrom JL, Kavanaugh KL, Mangurten HH. The accuracy of test weighing for preterm infants. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 1990;10:62-5.

(39.) Schy DS, Maglaya CF, Mendelson SG, Race KE, Ludwig-Beymer P. The effects of in-hospital lactation education on breastfeeding practice. J Hum Lact 1996;12:117-22.

(40.) Meier PP, Engstrom JL, Mangurten HH, Estrada E, Zimmerman B, Kopparthi R. Breastfeeding support services in the neonatal intensive-care unit. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs 1993;22:338-47.

(41.) Lawlor-Smith C, McIntyre E, Bruce J. Effective breastfeeding support in a general practice. Aust Fam Physician 1997;26:573-80.

(42.) Lieu TA, Wikler C, Capra AM, Martin KE, Escobar GJ, Braveman PA. Clinical outcomes and maternal perceptions of an updated model of perinatal care. Pediatrics 1998;102:1437-44.

(43.) Cronenwett L, Stukel T, Kearney M, Barrett J, Covington C, Del Monte K, et al. Single daily bottle use in the early weeks postpartum and breast-feeding outcomes. Pediatrics 1992;90:760-6.

(44.) Lang S. Alternative methods of feeding and breastfeeding. In: Breastfeeding special care babies. London: Bailliere Tindall,1997:136-60.

(45.) Arnold LD. How to order banked donor milk in the United States: what the health care provider needs to know. J Hum Lact 1998;14:65-7.


Relative Risk of Formula Feeding vs. Breast-Feeding

Illness Relative risk

Allergies, eczema 2 to 7 times(1)

Urinary tract infections 2.6 to 5.5 times(6)

Inflammatory bowel disease 1.5 to 1.9 times(7)

Diabetes, type 1 2.4 times(8)

Gastroenteritis 3 times(1)

Hodgkin’s lymphoma 1.8 to 6.7 times(9)

Otitis media 2.4 times(1)

Haemophilus influenzae meningitis 3.8 times(10)

Necrotizing enterocolitis 6 to 10 times(2)

Pneumonia/lower respiratory tract infection 1.7 to 5 times(1)

Respiratory syncytial virus infection 3.9 times(2)

Sepsis 2.1 times(11)

Sudden infant death syndrome 2.0 times(1)

Industrialized-world hospitalization 3 times(1)

Developing-country morbidity 50 times(1)

Developing-country mortality 7.9 times(1)

Information from references 1 through 11.


Additional Benefits of Breast-Feeding

Promotes mother-infant bonding

Promotes uterine involution

Economical for family and society


Better cognitive development in children(13)

Lower incidence of premenopausal breast cancer(14)

Lower incidence of premenopausal ovarian cancer(15)

Lower incidence of maternal osteoporosis(16)

Information from references 13 through 16.


Perceived Barriers to Breast-Feeding

Loss of freedom


Jealousy (paternal and sibling)

Difficulty returning to work or school

Physical discomfort


Lack of confidence (afraid that baby is starving)

Perception that formula is equal to breast milk


WHO/UNICEF Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes

No advertising of breast-milk substitutes.

No free samples or supplies.

No promotion of products through health care facilities.

No contact between company marketing personnel and mothers.

No gifts or personal samples to health workers.

No gifts or pictures idealizing formula feeding, including pictures of

infants, on the labels of the product.

Information to health workers should be scientific and factual only.

All information on artificial feeding, including labels, should explain the

benefits of breast-feeding and the costs and hazards associated with formula


Unsuitable products should not be promoted for babies.

All products should be of a high quality and take into account the climatic

and storage conditions of the country where they are used.

WHO = World Health Organization; UNICEF = United Nations Children’s Fund.

Reprinted with permission from Lucey JF. Committee on Nutrition and the WHO

code of marketing breast milk substitutes.

Pediatrics 1981;68:430-1.


Breast-Feeding Resources

AAP Breastfeeding Promotion in Pediatric Office Practices Program

Telephone: 847-228-5005, extension 4779

Web site:

La Leche League

Telephone: 847-519-7730

Web site:

International Lactation Consultants Association

Telephone: 919-787-5181

Web site:

Women, Infants and Children

Telephone: 703-305-2746

Web site:

AAFP breast-feeding support kit

Telephone: 800-944-0000

Web site:

AAFP breast-feeding policy statement

Telephone: 800-274-2237

Web site:

AAP = American Academy of Pediatrics; AAFP = American Academy

of Family Physicians.


Twelve Steps to a Lactation-Friendly Family Practice

1. Use a breast-feeding protocol in your practice that

is communicated to all staff and partners.

2. Provide adequate training to implement your breast-feeding protocol.

Promote hospital policies and insurance plans that do the same.

3. Inform all pregnant patients about the benefits and management

of breast-feeding and the drawbacks of formula feeding.

4. Help mothers initiate breast-feeding within 30 minutes of birth.

5. Request at least two skilled nursing observations of lactation during

the hospital stay.

6. Do a newborn examination in mother’s room, showing her how

well-designed her infant is for breast-feeding.

7. Encourage mother to room-in with infant while in the hospital and

encourage feeding on cue demand.

8. Avoid the use of artificial nipples and pacifiers in

breast-feeding newborns.

9. Recommend exclusive breast-feeding for the first six months,

with a goal of a total of 12 months.

10. If mother or infant is hospitalized, evaluate lactation needs

and arrange for milk expression if necessary.

11. Use lactation consultants liberally. Refer mothers to

breast-feeding support groups.

12. Schedule an office visit at two to four days postpartum to

evaluate lactation.

Adapted with permission from WHO/UNICEF. Protecting, promoting and

supporting breastfeeding: the special role of maternity services.

A joint WHO/UNICEF statement. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 1990;31

(suppl 1):171-83, and American Academy of Pediatrics, Work Group

on Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding and the use of human milk.

Pediatrics 1997;100:1035-9.


Hospital Discharge Breast-Feeding Instructions

Feed the infant on demand–on “hunger cues.”

Listen and feel for infant’s swallowing.

Infant should regain birth weight by two weeks

of age.

Avoid nipple confusion by adopting this policy: three to four

weeks of exclusive breastfeeding, then no more than one

bottle a day, using expressed breast milk.

Count wet diapers: one on day 1, two on day 2, three on day 3,

six per day from day 6 on, with three or more stools per


Report any signs and symptoms of dehydration

and jaundice.

Make use of lactation support telephone numbers.

Expect weight loss of [less than] 8 percent at the two- to four-day

follow-up visit.


Postnatal Breast-Feeding Promotion Checklist

Review prenatal breast-feeding checklist (see Figure 1).

Note any changes from initial interview.

Address any new concerns of the family.

Ensure less than 8 percent loss from birth weight.

Confirm appropriate weight gain:

Regain birth weight by two weeks of age

Acceptable weight gain of 10 g per kg per day (5 to 7 oz per week)

is normal for the first 4 weeks.

Observe breast-feeding.

Inspect mother for sore nipples and examine infant.

COPYRIGHT 2000 American Academy of Family Physicians

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group