To investigate the association between length of postpartum stay and duration of breastfeeding and breastfeeding problems, with special focus on early hospital discharge. Methods: Swedish-speaking women were recruited from all antenatal clinics in Sweden during 3 wk evenly spread over 1 y in 1999 to 2000. In total, 3293 women (71% of those who were eligible) consented to participate in the study. Data were collected by questionnaires in early pregnancy, 2 mo and 1 y postpartum, and from the Swedish Medical Birth Register. For the purpose of this study, only data from the 2709 women (82%) who filled in the question about length of stay in the 2-mo questionnaire were analysed. Women were divided into six groups according to length of postpartum stay (day 1: < 24h to day 6: ± 120h). Results: The median duration of any breastfeeding was 7 mo in women discharged on day 1, and 8 mo in women discharged on any of the following days; a non-significant difference (p= 0.66). Besides hospital policies regarding length of stay (residential area) and number of domiciliary visits, early discharge was associated with the following maternal characteristics, which could be divided into three categories: (1) older, multipara, many children; (2) positive experience of the first breastfeeding after birth; (3) low education, economic problems, smoking, lack of support from partner. Late discharge was associated with operative delivery, preterm birth and low infant birthweight. When these factors were controlled for by Cox regression analysis, no statistical differences were found between the six groups in the relative risk of discontinuing to breastfeed. Breastfeeding problems, such as engorgement and mastitis, did not differ, but women discharged on day 6 or later had fewer problems with sore or cracked nipples during the first week and more problems 4–8 wk postpartum.
Maternal characteristics may be more important predictors of the duration of breastfeeding than length of stay in hospital after the birth. The effect of domiciliary support needs further research.
2004. Vol. 93, no 5, 669-676 p.