Breastfeeding self-efficacy of women using second-line strategies for healthy term infants in the first week postpartum : an Australian observational study

Keemer, Frances (2013) Breastfeeding self-efficacy of women using second-line strategies for healthy term infants in the first week postpartum : an Australian observational study. International Breastfeeding Journal, 8(18), pp. 1-8.

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Breastfeeding self-efficacy (BFSE) supports breastfeeding initiation and duration. Challenges to breastfeeding may undermine BFSE, but second-line strategies including nipple shields, syringe, cup, supply line and bottle feeding may support breastfeeding until challenges are resolved. The primary aim of this study was to examine BFSE in a sample of women using second-line strategies for feeding healthy term infants in the first week postpartum.


A retrospective self-report study was conducted using the Breastfeeding Self-Efficacy Scale - Short Form (BSES-SF), demographic and infant feeding questionnaires. Breastfeeding women who gave birth to a singleton healthy term infant at one private metropolitan birthing facility in Australia from November 2008 to February 2009 returned anonymous questionnaires by mail.


A total of 128 (73 multiparous, 55 primiparous) women participated in the study. The mean BSES-SF score was 51.18 (Standard deviation, SD: 12.48). The median BSES-SF score was 53. Of women using a second-line strategy, 16 exceeded the median, and 42 were below. Analyses using Kruskal-Wallis tests confirmed this difference was statistically significant (H = 21.569, p = 0.001). The rate of second-line strategy use was 48%. The four most commonly used second-line strategies were: bottles with regular teats (77%); syringe feeding (44%); bottles with wide teats (34%); and nipple shields (27%). Seven key challenges were identified that contributed to the decision to use second-line strategies, including: nipple pain (40%); unsettled infant (40%); insufficient milk supply (37%); fatigue (37%); night nursery care (25%); infant weight loss > 10% (24%); and maternal birth associated pain (20%). Skin-to-skin contact at birth was commonly reported (93%). At seven days postpartum 124 women (97%) were continuing to breastfeed.


The high rate of use of second-line strategies identified in this study and high rate of breastfeeding at day seven despite lower BFSE indicate that such practices should not be overlooked by health professionals. The design of this study does not enable determination of cause-effect relationships to identify factors which contribute to use of second-line strategies. Nevertheless, the significantly lower BSES-SF score of women using a second-line strategy highlights this group of women have particular needs that require attention.

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ID Code: 68102
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Breastfeeding self-efficacy, breastfeeing challenge, cup feeding, syringe feeding, finger feeding, nipple shield, term infant, woman centered care
DOI: 10.1186/1746-4358-8-18
ISSN: 1746-4358
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > NURSING (111000) > Midwifery (111006)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Nursing
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 Keemer; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. T
Copyright Statement: his is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and
reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Deposited On: 06 Mar 2014 05:44
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2014 03:53

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