Positive breastfeeding experiences and facilitators in mothers of preterm and low birth weight infants: a meta-ethnographic review

Breastfeeding is a key maternal activity, and the quality of this experience makes a substantial contribution to biological, social-emotional, and cognitive well-being. In the context of neonatal care, breastfeeding is often regarded as a productive process and over the last few decades, much attention has been paid to breastfeeding of preterm and low-birth weight infants as breast milk provides nutritional, immunological, and neurological benefits. 

One of the major obstacles for breastfeeding the preterm infant is the infant’s breastfeeding behavior and this review aims to define what characterizes and facilitates a positive breastfeeding experience in mothers of preterm and LBW infants.

The research methodology comprises of a comprehensive search strategy with an inductive and interpretative meta-ethnography approach. The data collection methods involved interviews, written texts surveys, single open-ended question and social media narratives. Qualitative studies such as exploratory descriptive, case study, phenomenology, grounded theory, ethnography as well as mixed-methods studies were also used.

A systematic review using meta-ethnographic methods was carried out to extract and analyze the findings encompassing participant quotes, paper authors’ elucidations, and the review teams’ interpretations.

It concludes that, the mother’s physical and emotional states and the infant’s behavioral responses and physiological signals play a vital role towards positive breastfeeding practices. During embodied interactions such as breastfeeding, the mother and the infant need to coordinate their behaviors and bodies, both contributing to attunement. Positive breastfeeding support requires a favorable environment which enhances mother-infant dyads closeness and trust in the mother’s and infant’s capacities.

Source: Flacking, Renée, Tandberg, Bente Silnes, Niela-Vilén, Hannakaisa, Jónsdóttir, Rakel B., Jonas, Wibke, Ewald, Uwe, Thomson, Gill; Positive breastfeeding experiences and facilitators in mothers of preterm and low birthweight infants: a meta-ethnographic review; International Breastfeeding Journal  (IF3.461); 2021.

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