Nevin Manimala Statistics

Investigating midwives and nurses reporting of ‘infant feeding at hospital discharge’: an online survey across NSW Australia

Int Breastfeed J. 2024 Apr 23;19(1):29. doi: 10.1186/s13006-024-00637-w.


BACKGROUND: The collection of data on ‘infant feeding at hospital discharge’ is used to monitor breastfeeding outcomes, health service benchmarking, and research. While some Australian states have clear definitions of this data collection point, there is no operational definition of ‘infant feeding at hospital discharge’ in the Australian state of New South Wales. Little is known about how midwives interpret the term ‘infant feeding at hospital discharge’, in particular, the timeframe used to calculate these important indicators. The purpose of this study was to explore midwives’ and nurses’ practices of reporting ‘infant feeding at hospital discharge’ in the Australian state of New South Wales.

METHODS: An online survey was distributed across public and private maternity hospitals in New South Wales, Australia. The survey asked midwives and nurses their practice of reporting ‘infant feeding at discharge’ from categories offered by the state Mothers and Babies report of either “full breastfeeding”, “any breastfeeding”, and “infant formula only”. The Qualtrics survey was available from December 2021 to May 2022.

RESULTS: There were 319 completed surveys for analysis and all 15 NSW Health Districts were represented. Some participants reported using the timeframe ‘since birth’ as a reference (39%), however, the majority (54%, n = 173) referenced one of the feeding timeframes within the previous 24 h. Most midwives and nurses (83%, n = 265) recommended 24 h before discharge as the most relevant reference timeframe, and 65% (n = 207) were in favour of recording data on ‘exclusive breastfeeding’ since birth.

CONCLUSION: This study identified multiple practice inconsistencies within New South Wales reporting of ‘infant feeding at hospital discharge’. This has ramifications for key health statistics, state reporting, and national benchmarking. While the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative accreditation requires hospitals to demonstrate and continuously monitor at least a 75% exclusive breastfeeding rate on discharge, only 11 New South Wales facilities have achieved this accreditation. We recommend introducing an option to collect ‘exclusive breastfeeding’ on discharge’ which is in line with participant recommendations and the Baby Friendly Hospital accreditation. Other important considerations are the updated World Health Organization indicators such as, “Ever breastfed”; “Early initiation of breastfeeding” (first hour); “Exclusively breastfed for the first two days after birth”.

PMID:38654388 | DOI:10.1186/s13006-024-00637-w

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