Breastfeeding in an urban population

  • Maree Crepinsek

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Despite the many health benefits of breastfeeding, exclusivity and duration rates fall short of the World Health Organisation guidelines. This body of work is an examination of breastfeeding exclusivity and duration in an urban population. This thesis aimed to investigate the breastfeeding initiation rates of women in the Gold Coast region of Queensland, to report on the breastfeeding exclusivity and duration rates of a sample of breastfeeding women from this population, to describe their knowledge of mastitis, and to review published interventions for the prevention of mastitis in breastfeeding women after childbirth. This longitudinal study investigated a population of women who delivered their infants at the Gold Coast hospital in 2008. Firstly, the prevalence of breastfeeding upon hospital discharge in a cohort of postpartum women was observed and reported. From this population, a subgroup cohort was recruited and followed for a period of six months or until they weaned their infant. The subgroup study was designed to provide cross-sectional data about breastfeeding exclusivity and duration within an Australian urban population, as well as to compare breastfeeding women’s knowledge of mastitis within the clinical definition. Finally, a Cochrane systematic review examined the published literature on interventions for the prevention of mastitis after childbirth. Findings suggest that breastfeeding exclusivity and duration rates observed are comparable with rates from other national studies including survey data. Prevalence data showed that 87.5% of women discharged from hospital exclusively breastfeeding. The cross-sectional subgroup showed participants exclusively breastfed for a mean of 95.27 ± 73.40 days, while the mean breastfeeding duration was 125.36 ± 70.47 days. The responses to the questionnaires demonstrated that the majority of women have a minimal understanding of mastitis and its treatment. Participants reported that their first option when seeking information on mastitis was their mother or family and friends, followed by their general practitioner. The Cochrane Systematic Review identified the need for better quality trials and interventions that are more vigorous in the prevention of mastitis following childbirth. The trials published to date produced no statistically significant findings or benefits from any interventions designed. Ongoing research is required into improving breastfeeding duration rates so that they reach recommended levels. Further research into effective interventions for the prevention of mastitis in the postpartum period is required to reduce the prevalence of mastitis in breastfeeding women.
Date of Award8 Oct 2011
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorNeil Smart (Supervisor)

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