Graduation Year

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Nursing

Major Professor

Maureen W. Groer, Ph.D., RN, FAAN

Co-Major Professor

Denise Maguire, Ph.D., RN, CNL

Committee Member

Melissa M. Shelton, Ph.D., RN, CNE

Committee Member

Lance Wyble, M.D., MPH

Keywords

breastfeeding, galactokinesis, oxytocin, skin to skin

Abstract

This dissertation research explored mechanisms of human milk (HM) expulsion by describing the effects of skin to skin contact (SSC) on maternal basal oxytocin (OT) secretion among 20 premature mothers with hospitalized premature infants. This one-group, repeated measures design consisted of: 1) daily SSC with covariant data via self-report diary and 2) maternal salivary OT with and without SSC at 4 time points were collected over a 7 day time frame. Results indicate that mean levels of basal OT increase over time (M 234 pg/ml, SD 108 pg/ml time point 1; M 257 pg/ml, SD 125 pg/ml time point 3). Through multilevel model data analysis basal OT was found to have a meaningful amount of dependence on SSC frequency (t(16) = 6.389, p = < 0.001) and SSC duration (t(17) = 6.867, p = < 0.001) with coefficient estimates that indicate that basal OT exposed to 75-85 minutes of SSC per day are 92 pg/ml higher. These findings provide preliminary data that suggest that lactating mothers with premature infants sustain positive effects of SSC that increase basal OT secretion over time. Continued research comparing maternal cortisol and OT will determine if SSC physiologically deregulates maternal stressors that influence OT secretion and HM volume.

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