Journal of Clinical Nursing
School of Nursing and Midwifery / Centre for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Services Research
Aim To describe mother's experiences of feeding their extremely preterm infant. Background When an infant is born extremely preterm, there is a long rocky road for the mother if she wants to breastfeed. Some manage to reach their goals, others do not. Studies of feeding extremely preterm infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) are scarce. Design A qualitative method with an inductive approach. Methods Nine mothers giving birth to extremely preterm infants were interviewed by telephone after discharge from the NICU. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed with qualitative content analysis. The COREQ checklist was followed. Results The overall theme was “you can't flight, you need to fight.” The theme reflects the mothers’ will to do the best for their infants even if the struggle with milk expression and breastfeeding practice evoked feelings of helplessness, exposure, worry and disappointment. The categories forming the theme were as follows: The wish to provide own breastmilk; For the infant's best; Loss of control; and Help to reach the goals. Conclusion The mothers had a strong will to provide breastmilk to their infants but requested more support in order to be successful. Relevance to clinical practice There is a need for evidence‐based support programmes for mothers of extremely preterm infants to encourage them to persevere with milk expression and breastfeeding over time.
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