Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Anita Esquerra-Zwiers, Nursing

Document Type


Event Date



Less than half of very low birth weight (VLBW, < 1500 grams) infants are discharged from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) receiving mother’s own milk (MOM), despite its demonstrated importance. Nevertheless, few studies have explored the impact of maternal perceived trauma (MPT) on infant feeding outcomes. The purpose of this study is to describe MPT among mothers of hospitalized VLBW infants and examine infant feeding outcomes with MPT. This analysis is derived from a grounded theory study exploring the maternal provision of milk among a convenience sample of mothers with VLBW infants at a Midwest NICU. This study utilized semi-structured interviews and content analysis to identify common themes (n=30). Data were analyzed using Dedoose, web-based data management and analytical software. A preliminary analysis identified trauma as a prominent theme. Trauma was defined as a mother’s perceived inability to process an experience at the time of the event, a lack of understanding during the time of an event, and the rapid decline of either maternal or infant health. The occurrence of MPT (n=865) was reported most frequently in women described as Black (46%), multipara (57%), married (75%), and ages > 30 (57%). The MPT frequency was greater with cesarean (54%) and hypertensive (71%) births. The MPT frequency with MOM was 63%, but only 23% with exclusive MOM at discharge. This study’s limitations include using a single hospital location and only English-speaking mothers, making the results less generalizable. Additionally, the interviewer’s Latina racial identity may have led to a sense of kinship with some mothers. A better understanding of MPT and those at risk for MPT will allow providers the opportunity to identify interventions to increase MOM feedings at discharge proactively.


This research was supported by Medela, Rush University Golden Lamp, and the Jean Mason '45 Debbink Faculty Development Fund