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Int J Nurs Stud. 1990;27(3):303-13.

Initiating breastfeeding: a world survey of the timing of postpartum breastfeeding.

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1
Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.

Abstract

A survey of the 'Human Relations Area Files' and ethnographic infant feeding literature from all cultures on the timing of infant feeding revealed that the practice of withholding colostrum from the infant was widespread. Data obtained from 120 cultures showed that in 50 cultures this delay in implementing breastfeeding was more than two days. In many groups, substitute prelacteal feeds were given, while in others, practices such as the use of purgatives exacerbated the risk of dehydration in the infant. The authors warn that nurses and midwives must be aware of the practice of withholding colostrum from the infant, and note that if a mother does not wish to breastfeed in the immediate postpartum, this does not necessarily mean that she wishes to bottle feed the infant.

PIP:

Although early breastfeeding has many physiological and psychological benefits for a mother and her infant, in many cultural groups breastfeeding is delayed. This survey's information was obtained by conducting a literature search and be searching the Human Relations Area Files. All references to postpartal infant feeding were compiled and sorted according to the timing of the first feeding, and a list was made of the substitute prelacteal foods used in each culture. Data obtained from 120 cultures showed that 50 cultures initially withheld the infant from the breast for 48 hours or more, giving substitute prelacteal feeds. Reasons for withholding colostrum are varied. Most groups reported that colostrum was dirty, poisonous, or contaminated. Modern prelacteal feeding substituted for colostrum include water, water and glucose, or infant formula. Traditional substitute feedings, influenced by culture and available foodstuffs, were varied, but the most common technique was to let the nearest lactating relative nurse the child. Some cultural groups also have a tradition of giving purgatives to the newborn, a practice which exacerbates the dehydration effects of not breastfeeding. In encouraging early breastfeeding, caregivers should determine the mother's beliefs concerning early infant feeding, being sensitive to differences in culture and the perceived power of the caregiver in relation to the woman. Before providing advice on postpartum feeding, the caregiver should consider how the teachings will likely be received, avoiding cultural imposition and stereotyping of the patient. Most important is to remember that if a mother does not wish to breastfeed in the immediate postpartum, this does not necessarily mean that she never wishes to breastfeed.

PMID:
2199383
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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