Factors that positively influence in-hospital exclusive breastfeeding among women with gestational diabetes: An integrative review

  • Leanne Cummins
    Corresponding author.
    School of Nursing, University of Wollongong, Northfields Avenue, Wollongong, NSW, 2522, Australia

    Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, Wollongong Hospital, Loftus St, Wollongong, NSW, 2500, Australia
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  • Shahla Meedya
    School of Nursing, University of Wollongong, Northfields Avenue, Wollongong, NSW, 2522, Australia
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  • Valerie Wilson
    School of Nursing, University of Wollongong, Northfields Avenue, Wollongong, NSW, 2522, Australia

    Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, Wollongong Hospital, Loftus St, Wollongong, NSW, 2500, Australia
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      Women with gestational diabetes have higher rates of introducing infant formula before leaving hospital.


      Despite health professional support, less women with gestational diabetes exclusively breastfeed in hospital.


      To find factors that positively influence in-hospital exclusive breastfeeding practices among women with gestational diabetes.


      An online search was performed in Medline, Scopus, Pubmed, CINAHL and Cochrane databases. Studies containing the keywords gestational diabetes and breastfeeding were retrieved.


      Authors identified 1935 papers from search criteria. Twenty-six papers with no restrictions on research design met inclusion criteria and were included in the review. Factors were divided into personal, antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal factors. The main modifiable factors that were associated with improved in-hospital exclusive breastfeeding rates were having a strong intention to breastfeed, being confident, feeling supported and having continuity of education and support. Women’s main reasons to introduce formula were related to baby’s hypoglycaemia, delayed lactogenesis II and perceived low milk supply. Skin-to-skin contact after birth combined with frequent breastfeeds were effective ways to improve in-hospital exclusive breastfeeding rates.


      Influencing factors such as women’s breastfeeding intention, confidence and ongoing support are no different to the general population of women. However, promoting skin-to-skin contact after birth combined with frequent feeds are crucial for women with gestational diabetes who are more likely to introduce formula due to delayed lactogenesis II and fear of neonatal hypoglycaemia. There is a need for developing educational and supportive interventions that are tailored specifically for women who have gestational diabetes.


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