Infant feeding policies in maternity wards and their effect on breast-feeding success

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This review presents strong evidence that several of the infant feeding policies recommended by WHO and UNICEF can have a positive impact on lactation success. On the other hand, it also shows that the impact of other maternity ward policies could not be properly evaluated because of serious methodological problems in the studies.

Successful lactation and breastfeeding are important in the early months of an infant’s life. Recently, interest into how beneficial infant feeding policies in maternity wards can influence the success of lactation, has increased. This study aims to evaluate the relationship between maternity ward practices and successful lactation. Eighteen studies were included for meta-analysis in this review. Results showed commercial discharge packs to have an adverse effect on lactation success. Rooming-in, breast-feeding guidance and breast feeding on demand were positively associated with breast-feeding and lactation success. The effect of early mother-infant contact on lactation success is unclear. In hospital formula supplementation was not associated with unsuccessful breast-feeding. It is concluded that hospital- based interventions can have beneficial effects on lactation success.

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