Mothers' experiences with nipple confusion in their breast-fed infants who were introduced to bottles: A phenomenological study




Egan, Antonina

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The problem of the study was to identify the common elements of nursing mothers' experiences with nipple confusion in their breast-fed infants who were introduced to bottles. When mothers desire to combine both breast- and bottle feeding once nursing has been established, a condition known as nipple confusion may result. Mothers need support, encouragement, and assistance throughout their nursing experience in order to enhance their opportunities for success and satisfaction.

Using a phenomenological approach, the phenomenon of nipple confusion was examined by obtaining descriptions from six mothers who experienced their babies' rejection of bottles when they were introduced. The sample was obtained through the help of colleagues who provided mothers the investigator's name and phone number along with a description of the study. Interviews ranged from 45 minutes to 112 hours. They were tape-recorded and later transcribed verbatim for analysis.

Through the use of Giorgi's (1985) approach, the researcher articulated and employed a systematic method of phenomenological analysis. Analysis of the data indicates that the experience with nipple confusion can lead to negative feelings toward breast-feeding, motherhood, baby, and self if support, assistance, and understanding are not received during this time. Mothers reported no assistance from health care providers when contacted about the problem. Further, health care providers offered little support or understanding about mothers' situations. According to the mothers, health care providers seemed unaware of the nipple confusion phenomenon.

Data analysis also indicated that the family's level of harmony was disrupted. Increased arguing between mother and spouse occurred. Infants reacted to bottles by crying, turning their head away from the rubber nipple, arching their back, spitting the milk or formula out with his/her tongue, and pushing the rubber nipple out with his/her tongue. Mothers who did not receive assistance or support from their spouse during this period reported feelings of frustration, anger, and resentment towards infant. Results of the study indicate that nurses must become aware of the problem of nipple confusion, means to prevent it, and methods to assist both mother and infant during the adjustment period.



Mothers, Nutrition, Breast-fed infants