Midwives experiences of interventions to improve breast expression following preterm birth: A qualitative study

Loretta A. Anderson, Sue Kildea, Kathryn Kynoch, Yu Gao, Nigel Lee

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Objective: Preterm birth impacts approximately 10% of women globally. Midwives are often the first point of care after the birth of a preterm infant providing mothers with information and support for breast expression. However, despite guidelines that suggest expression within the first hour of birth, most first expressions occur much later. This study aimed to seek an understanding of midwives’ experiences with the first expression for mothers of preterm infants, including the barriers and facilitators that midwives may face. Design: A qualitative design using semi-structured interviews via focus groups. Thematic analysis was used to identify relevant themes and sub-themes. Participants: Participants included midwives providing care to women in preterm labour and birth at a tertiary maternity hospital in Australia (N=12). All participating midwives cared for mothers of preterm infants between 28 and 35 weeks’ gestation up to six hours following birth. Findings: Two major themes resulted from the data, including the changing expectations of infant feeding and the responsibility versus expectation to support a woman to express in the first hour of birth with other competing clinical and organisational tasks. Key conclusions and implications for practice: Whilst individual philosophies on the benefits of human milk were positive, expressing in the birth suite was dictated by essential clinical tasks and by the institutions value placed on expressing in the first hour. Clear objectives to undertake expressing within the first hour or within the birth suite stay, need to be included in policy and supported by management and team leaders, to increase early expressing rates.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number103530
    Pages (from-to)1-8
    Number of pages8
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


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