Paediatric Nurses’ Knowledge and Attitudes Related to Breastfeeding and the Hospitalised Infant

The Australian Breastfeeding Association is delighted to announce Ms Marie McLaughlin along with her supervisors Dr Jennifer Fraser, Dr Jeanine Young and Dr Samantha Keogh, as the winner of the Mary Paton Research Award for 2011 for her paper Paediatric Nurses’ Knowledge and Attitudes Related to Breastfeeding and the Hospitalised Infant.

Marie McLaughlin has completed masters degrees in Applied Science (Research) and in Nursing. Currently Marie is an Associate Lecturer at the School of Nursing and Midwifery University of Queensland while also continuing her role as a clinical nurse in Community Child Health. She became interested in lactation after the premature birth of her first child and three subsequent premature births. Marie has also worked in acute care at the Royal Children’s Hospital.

In her winning paper, Ms McLaughlin examines breastfeeding knowledge, knowledge related to breastfeeding the hospitalised infant, policy and guideline awareness, and attitudes to breastfeeding in the paediatric nursing community. Participants responded to an extensive questionnaire in which they demonstrated excellent breastfeeding attitudes and general knowledge. Nonetheless, deficits in breastfeeding knowledge related to specific outcomes were identified (including attachment, maintenance of milk supply, expressing, impact of supplements, protective benefits and supportive advice and strategies).

Unfortunately, breastfeeding is easily interrupted by hospital admission, and nurses with appropriate knowledge and skills can influence whether infants continue to breastfeed during hospitalisation. While breastmilk provides nutrition and immunological protection, it also reduces the severity of illness and the rate of hospital acquired infection. Supporting mothers whose children are hospitalised to continue to breastfeed is something that can be improved in Australia. This paper provides some useful insights for future educational needs of paediatric nurses.

Access Marie’s paper here