The role of the nurse in support of breast feeding


  • Kathleen G. Auerbach Ph.D.

    1. Assistant Professor of Sociology, Department of Medical Social Sciences, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27103
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The nurse can provide information about, and support of, breast feeding. The prenatal nurse can inform the mother of the advantages of breast feeding to herself and her baby. The labour and delivery nurse can aid the mother in her first contact with the baby and reassure the mother who has a Caesarean birth, or a premature or sick infant, that she too can nurse. The postpartum nurse can help breast feeding to continue by providing frequent maternal-infant contact during the mother's hospital stay. The nursery nurse supports breast feeding by refraining from giving the baby other fluids. The paediatric nurse continues the helping pattern by reinforcing the statements and actions of others which will further impress the mother with the appropriateness of her infant feeding method.

Mothers need to be informed about infant feeding options in order to make a knowledgeable choice based on awareness of alternatives. The nurse's role in support of breast feeding varies with the time and place where patient care is provided. In each setting, however, the nurse plays a significant role in helping the mother to begin breast feeding and to enjoy it, at the same time providing her infant with optimum nutrition for his early growth and development.