The Meaning of the Breastfeeding Experience for Mothers in Critical Care
McShane, Mary Michele
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A small percentage of women will require hospitalization in a critical care unit during the postpartum period, and breastfeeding is a goal for many of these mothers. Critical care units are staffed by highly skilled health care providers; however, breastfeeding support is not part of the critical care unit culture. This interpretive phenomenology study explored the experience of women being in a critical care unit soon after having a baby that they planned to breastfeed. Three themes were developed after analyzing and interpreting the data: Separation from my baby (with sub-themes planning helps with separation and creative connections); Breastfeeding, an afterthought in the ICU; and Surviving pre-empts breastfeeding. This study provides insights about the meaning of the breastfeeding experience to mothers in critical care.