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IOWA INVESTIGATOR: Pamela Mulder

Pamela Mulder

IOWA INVESTIGATOR: Pamela Mulder

What is the focus of your research? What questions are you trying to answer? What problems are you attempting to solve?
My research focuses on improving the health of mothers and infants through supporting breastfeeding and identifying how infant growth and health is related to health in later life. I am interested in the multiple different ways that infant feeding is influenced immediately after birth, from how the mother perceives breastfeeding to the relationship between breastfeeding and infant weight loss and hydration.

I am currently working to identify how well breastfed infants are hydrated immediately after birth and how events during labor and delivery might affect infant hydration. I am also refining a survey to measure how mothers perceive breastfeeding.

What led to your interest in this topic? 
Prior to completing my PhD, I worked as a staff nurse in the maternity unit of a community hospital.  One of my major responsibilities was to help mothers and infants successfully breastfeed. During this time, I came across numerous problems that hindered breastfeeding, but I could not find any answers or solutions for these problems as a staff nurse. Also, my interest was piqued because each my own children presented different breastfeeding challenges.

What impact (on citizens, practice environment, educational opportunities, funding, etc.) do you predict coming from this research?
My goal is that my research will help more women have positive breastfeeding experiences and encourage them to breastfeed their infants longer. I hope to improve nurse support of breastfeeding by helping nurses better understand how mothers perceive breastfeeding, which will promote interventions tailored to the mother’s needs. In identifying how breastfed infants maintain hydration immediately after birth, we can better identify infants who need additional fluid supplementation and those infants who do not. Parents and health care providers who can be assured that infants are adequately hydrated will be more confident in exclusively breastfeeding and less likely to resort to supplementing.

How does the research integrate into education/practice/service?
At the College of Nursing I use my background and research in breastfeeding to teach future family and pediatric nurse practitioners about how to support breastfeeding mothers and infants in the first year after birth. I have also shared the Beginning Breastfeeding Survey that I created to measure the mother’s perception of breastfeeding with health care providers and students in the United States, Italy, South Korea, and Taiwan.   

Posted On: 
Oct 29th, 2012