• breast-feeding;
  • postnatal stay;
  • health services research;
  • nursing;
  • midwifery;
  • support

Does the duration of postnatal stay influence breast-feeding rates at one month in women giving birth for the first time? A randomized control trial

The aim of the study reported in this paper was to examine the effect of postnatal stay on breast-feeding rates at one month using a randomized control trial. Participants were recruited during parentcraft classes at a large teaching hospital in the north of England. Nulliparous women in the last trimester of pregnancy were randomly allocated to a short hospital postnatal stay (6–48 hours), or a longer stay (more than 48 hours). The mothers were contacted at one month following the birth to ask about the method of feeding. The study was approved by the hospital ethical committee, and participation was voluntary. The results demonstrated no significant effect of postnatal stay on breast-feeding rates at one month. The main limitation of the study was the reluctance of the mothers in the long stay group to stay in hospital for longer than three days. This resulted in only a small difference between the lengths of hospital stay of the two interventions. The overall breast-feeding rate for the study group had increased significantly when compared with local city wide rates. This increase may be as a result of a sampling bias or a Hawthorne effect.