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Early years

12th Feb 2022

This ONE tiny change could make breastfeeding easier for new mums and babies

Trine Jensen-Burke


When it comes to how well a new mum gets on with breastfeeding, many small factors play a part.

Help and support, from both her family and friends, as well as midwives and healthcare professionals, will matter greatly.

However, according to a study published in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynaecological and Neonatal Nursing, there is another small shift in how babies are cared for that can actually pay dividends when it comes to breastfeeding success rates.

According to the US study, delaying a healthy newborn’s first bath for at least 12 hours after birth improves the likelihood of that baby being exclusively breastfed.

This is what nursing professional development specialist for the Mother/Baby Unit at Cleveland Clinic Hillcrest Hospital in Ohio and lead author of the study, Heather Condo DiCioccio, told Today about the results:

“These findings are good news for mums and babies. It makes us happy to see that happen. Any increase that we can get in breastfeeding rates is going to be significant.”

Previously, the hospital DiCioccio works at used to bathe babies within two hours. They adopted the delayed bathing approach and looked for possible benefits, comparing them to babies who were bathed two hours after birth. The results proved just how beneficial bathing after 12 hours could be.

“The study involved 996 pairs of women and their healthy newborns,” Today reports.

“About half — 448 — fell under the hospital’s previous policy of bathing babies when they were about two hours old. The other 548 mum-baby pairs followed the new protocol — with nurses delaying the first bath for at least 12 hours.”

Comparing the two groups of babies, they found that exclusive breastfeeding rates were 59.8 percent in the two-hour bathed babies group and 68.2 percent in the babies bathed 12 hours after birth group.

“Delaying the newborn bath was associated with increased in-hospital exclusive breastfeeding rates and use of human milk as a part of the discharge feeding plan,” the research team concluded.