Cross-sectional study of influences on maternal decisions regarding feeding premature and ill neonates


This cross-sectional study investigated the influences on feeding decisions made by mothers of infants admitted to neonatal intensive care units. The primary aims were to describe discrete influences on maternal behavior and to test Fishbein and Azjen's Theory of Planned Behavior in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) setting. The study included a convenience sample of 445 mothers in North Texas and Wisconsin. An investigator-designed tool was administered to subjects by research team members in the study units. Significant differences between minority and dominant racial groups emerged, which highlight known disparities in perinatal outcomes. Results supported the Theory of Planned Behavior and demonstrated predictors of exclusive breastfeeding at discharge including intention, race/ethnicity, length of stay in the NICU, and beliefs that the following factors influenced feeding decisions: having help with chores or childcare at home, talking with mothers in the NICU, having the NICU nurse help with feeding, and space for breastfeeding in the NICU. Incidental findings included the observation that mothers in the only NICU with private rooms were significantly more likely to report fatigue and to perceive that unit busyness, space, and privacy affected their feeding decisions, although there was no difference in breastfeeding at discharge between this NICU and others.

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