The Effect of Discharge Pack Formula and Breast Pumps on Breastfeeding Duration and Choice of Infant Feeding Method


Mary Campbell Bliss MS, RN Perinatal Clinical Nurse Specialist, Sutter Center for Women's Health, Sutter Community Hospital, 5151 F Street—2 South, Sacramento, CA 95819.



A study of breastfeeding mothers was conducted from October 1993 through July 1994 in the western United States to determine the influence of components of hospital discharge packs on the duration of breastfeeding.


On discharge from the hospital, over 1600 breastfeeding mothers were given one of four free discharge packs, identical in all ways except that one contained a can of powdered formula, one a manual breast pump, one both formula and pump, and one neither. During the following 6 months, mothers were interviewed by telephone three times by an independent research firm to determine how and what they were feeding their infants. Analysis of the independent and interactive effects of both formula and pump was performed, and the moderating effects of age, ethnicity, marital and insurance status, prebirth feeding plan, and the effect of returning to outside employment or school were examined.


Across the entire sample, the contents of the discharge packs had a negligible effect on feeding method and breastfeeding duration. Examination of select subgroups revealed modest discharge pack effects, wherein the presence of discharge pack formula increased the likelihood of introducing supplementation during the first 6 weeks whereas receipt of pumps prolonged full breastfeeding. Even in these select groups, however, no effect was observed on the overall duration of breastfeeding.


Relative to other known influences on the choice of feeding method and on breastfeeding duration, discharge pack contents do not merit great concern. (BIRTH 24:2, June 1997)