An evaluation of a lactation nurse by means of a randomised controlled trial is described. The lactation nurse was employed to assist, support, and encourage mothers during the early weeks after parturition in hospital and at home. All mothers who breast-fed at least once were entered into the trial. Altogether 649 mothers were interviewed 12 months later to establish the duration of breast-feeding and to enquire after practices of and attitudes towards infant feeding. The lactation nurse significantly extended the duration of breast-feeding, particularly during the first four weeks and among women of lower social class. Although she did not reduce problems or change practices significantly, all the trends were consistently in the right direction. Mothers in the experimental group were more satisfied with the help they received than were mothers in the control group. It seems likely that the lactation nurse by consistent advice, assistance, support, and encouragement enabled mothers to cope more successfully with difficulties and that this led to significantly fewer ending breast-feeding prematurely.
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