Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Master of Nursing


Faculty of Health and Human Sciences

First Supervisor

Dr Patricia Percival

Second Supervisor

Judith Davis

Third Supervisor

Gerry Farrell


Although it is widely recognised that breast milk is biologically perfect to provide nutrition for the newborn infant many new mothers do not continue to breast feed throughout the postpartum period. A possible influencing factor is the decreased length of hospital stay, whereby new mothers are discharged home away from the supportive-educative role of the midwife before they are ready to learn the art of breast feeding. The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of three midwifery interventions on the continuity and knowledge of first time breast feeding mothers at 6 weeks postpartum. A convenience sample of 162 first time breast feeding mothers was divided into three groups: conventional discharge (n = 59), teaching intervention (n = 51) and planned early discharge (n =52). Mothers and babies in all groups were well and declared fit for discharge on day 3 postpartum. Using a quasi experimental, post-test-only design two questionnaires were completed, one at a personal interview prior to discharge from hospital and one telephone interview at 6 weeks postpartum. At 6 weeks postpartum it was found that only 63% of subjects were successfully breast feeding. Those that were successfully breast feeding also had a significantly higher breast feeding knowledge (p =.01). Although more subjects in the planned early discharge group were still breast feeding there was no significant difference between the three groups (p = > . 05). On the other hand, there was a significant difference between the breast feeding knowledge of subjects in the three groups (p = < . 05) with those subjects in the planned early discharge group having greater breast feeding knowledge. Data analysis also revealed that age and income had a significant relationship to both successful breast feeding and breast feeding knowledge while level of education only influenced breast feeding knowledge. Subjects in the planned early discharge group were very satisfied with their care and verbalised appreciation for the opportunity to speak with the visiting midwife in their own home.