Aims. This study aimed to examine the use of a free hotline service for breastfeeding mothers in Taiwan. Specific attention was given to the accumulated consultation time and to investigate the trends and reasons that prompted people to contact the service. Background. Breastfeeding can be a difficult time for mothers, especially during the first two weeks after birth. It has been suggested that a telephone hotline service may be helpful for breastfeeding mothers. Design. In this quantitative study data, including the demographic data and the problems of consultations, were gathered from callers during August 2003 to August 2005. Results. Of the 2445 callers, 935 made subsequent calls (38·2%). Approximately 25·25 calls were answered each day by two specially-trained staff according to an answering book. The mean consultation time for single first-call was 21·82 minutes and for one subsequent-call was 15·87 minutes. Perceived insufficient milk supply (30%) and returning to work (21%) were the top two reasons for a first-call. If callers' problems were about babies' sickness, perceived insufficient milk supply, babies' body weight gain and supplement issues, the accumulated consultation time would last longer. More than half (53·3%; 1303/2445) of callers made the first-call during the first month after birth, followed by 23·2% (566/2445) during babies' age between one and three months old. Conclusion. The telephone hotline service for breastfeeding mothers in Taiwan was well used during the two year period of this study. Many mothers used the service repeatedly for a variety of reasons. Relevance to clinical practice. Recommendations for breastfeeding support strategies for the professionals include category of common breastfeeding problems by different stages after birth. This study supports the establishment of free hotline services may encourage greater empowerment in breastfeeding mothers. Future studies are required to examine client satisfaction of the telephone service.
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