Nursing diagnosis Ineffective breastfeeding

Ineffective breastfeeding

Ineffective breastfeeding

Domain 2. Nutrition
Class 1. Ingestion
Diagnostic Code: 00104
Nanda label: Ineffective breastfeeding
Diagnostic focus: Breastfeeding

Nursing diagnosis refers to a healthcare professional's diagnosis pertaining to a patient's health condition. It serves as an individual plan of care for the patient, which usually includes recommendations and treatments that can be used to help the patient attain goals through weight management, lifestyle changes, and preventive strategies. Ineffective breastfeeding is known to be one of the most common nursing diagnoses that can be made about a patient. This condition happens when the mother has difficulty in providing enough milk for her baby, or it can even occur when the infant does not get the proper stimulation needed for successful breastfeeding. In both situations, there can be some serious implications for the health of the mother and the baby if not tended to in an appropriate manner.

Table of Contents

NANDA Nursing Diagnosis Definition

The NANDA (North American Nursing Diagnosis Association) defines ineffective breastfeeding as “the inability to provide an adequate amount of milk for the infant”. This diagnosis can be related to a number of physiological, psychological, or socio-cultural factors. If ineffective breastfeeding occurs, it can have long-term impacts on the infant’s nutrition and growth.

Defining Characteristics


  • Shortness of breath during feeds
  • Complaints of pain or discomfort during feeds
  • Mother often falls asleep during feeds
  • Expresses displeasure with the breastfeeding process
  • Expresses feelings of inadequacy with respect to breastfeeding


  • Decreased milk production
  • Inability to empty one or both breast during feedings
  • Inappropriate latch techniques
  • Infant demonstrates signs of hunger soon after feedings
  • Breast pumps fail to extract milk

Related Factors

Ineffective breastfeeding may be related to a number of factors, including:

  • Physiological - Incorrectly positioned baby at breast, ineffective sucking, increased use of pacifiers, anatomical abnormalities of the breasts, insufficient breast tissue, insufficient production of milk, late initiation of breastfeeding.
  • Psychological - Fear of pain during latches, fear of being judged during feeding in public, fear of competition from bottle-feeding, depression, exhaustion, interference of partner, inadequate support from family or friends.

At Risk Population

This nursing diagnosis may affect any woman who is breastfeeding her child. However, there are certain populations who may be more at risk than others, such as:

  • Younger Moms – Teenage mothers who may not have access to the same support they would if they were older, as well as lack of experience can be factors contributing to this condition.
  • Single Moms – Non-partner moms may not benefit from having a partner to share the burden and understanding that comes with being a new parent.
  • First-Time Moms – Many first-time mothers may not know what to expect when it comes to breastfeeding and might not receive the necessary support or advice on how to do it correctly.
  • WIC Participants – Women who are part of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) may not have easy access to support services or resources.

Associated Conditions

Other health conditions may also be associated with ineffective breastfeeding:

  • Postpartum Depression – Postpartum depression can make it difficult to be enthusiastic and effective while breastfeeding. It can interfere with bonding between mom and child, possibly leading to ineffective breastfeeding.
  • Engorgement – Prolonged engorgement can lead to blocked ducts and an inability to express milk leading to ineffective breastfeeding.
  • Mastitis – Mastitis is an infection of the breast that may make breastfeeding uncomfortable or painful, leading to shorter feeding times, as well as reduced milk production.
  • Birth Defects – Birth defects may make it difficult for the baby to latch properly, resulting in ineffective breastfeeding.

Suggestions of Use

If you believe that you or someone you know could be suffering from this condition, there should be actions taken to try and correct the situation. Here are suggestions of how to approach this condition in hopes of achieving successful breastfeeding:

  • Talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant about concerns and tips for successful nursing.
  • Visit a La Leche League meeting and connect with other mothers in order to receive guidance and support.
  • Read books about breastfeeding as a form of education and self-empowerment.
  • Make sure to get plenty of rest and connect with your family or friends if feeling overwhelmed.
  • Keep practice sessions of nursing until the routine is perfected.
  • If needed, seek professional assistance in order to decide whether formula feeding or combination feeding is the best choice.

Suggested Alternative NANDA Nursing Diagnosis

Here are some alternative NANDA nursing diagnoses that could be associated with ineffective breastfeeding:

  • Ineffective infant feeding pattern – An ineffective feeding pattern leads to inadequate nutrition for the infant.
  • Risk for uncompensated fluid volume deficit – Babies fed with less milk than needed may show signs of dehydration.
  • Noncompliance with therapeutic regimen – Mothers who don’t follow the standard practices of breastfeeding may put their babies’ health at risk.
  • Excess Fear – Mothers that are afraid of breastfeeding due to any reason may be less likely to effectively do it.
  • Risk for impaired infant Nutritional Status – Babies that are fed improperly run the risk of having poor nutritional status.

Usage Tips

  • Make sure to have a good latch as soon as the baby is born, in order to make sure breastfeeding is done correctly.
  • Educate yourself and get plenty of support in order to reduce fear or anxiety regarding breastfeeding.
  • Take care of yourself and make sure to get enough rest and nutrition.
  • Pay attention to signs of hunger in the baby to ensure that he or she is getting enough milk.
  • If you suspect breastfeeding problems, ask for help from a qualified health professional.

NOC Outcomes

When providing care for patients with nursing diagnosis ineffective breastfeeding, the outcomes that nurses are expected to accomplish are as follows:

  • Nutrition – Proper nutrition must be ensured through appropriate feeding pattern, dietary modifications, vitamins and fluids.
  • Coping – Patient must be able to effectively cope with breastfeeding difficulties, without significant distress.
  • Family Processes: Potential for Growth – Members should be able to learn and achieve breastfeeding skills needed for optimal nutrition.
  • Breastfeeding Knowledge – Patient’s knowledge should be consistent with appropriate safety measures, proper technique, maternal and infant needs.

Evaluation Objectives and Criteria

When evaluating a patient for nursing diagnosis ineffective breastfeeding, evaluation should be done through measurements of maternal and infant nutrition, family process strengths, breastfeeding experience, coping abilities, breast pump efficiency, and breastfeeding knowledge. The standards of evaluation should include knowledge of the complications associated with breastfeeding and the lack of access to support groups.

NIC Interventions

When treating a patient with nursing diagnosis ineffective breastfeeding, nurses can use these interventions for improved outcomes:

  • Breastfeeding Assistance – Determine appropriate positioning of mother and infant, latch-on technique assistance, hand expression of milk, pumping assistance.
  • Supportive Interaction – Discuss breastfeeding options with mother and develop a suitable plan, reassure anxious parents, reinforce the development of self-confidence in the mother.
  • Instruction – Explain the side effects of formula feeding, problems with oversupply and undersupply of milk, introduce methods for increasing milk production.
  • Teaching: Individual – Demonstrate the basics of hand expression, recommend breastfeeding classes or support groups, explain the importance of postpartum follow-up, advise mothers on the available nutrition options.

Nursing Activities

Nurses also need to take into consideration the following activities when treating a patient with nursing diagnosis ineffective breastfeeding:

  • Assess the condition of the mother and her infant’s health.
  • Provide emotional support and encouragement.
  • Monitor the progress of the breastfeeding relationship.
  • Teach the mother techniques for successful breastfeeding.
  • Encourage the participation of the father and other supportive figures.
  • Educate mothers on the benefits of breastfeeding over formula.
  • Refer the mother to the necessary support systems if needed.


In conclusion, nursing diagnosis ineffective breastfeeding is a condition that can have serious implications for the health of the mother and her baby. It is important for nurses to recognize the symptoms and signs of this condition so that they can provide appropriate interventions in order to improve the health and wellbeing of the mother, as well as her baby. With the right help and support, breastfeeding can be a successful and enjoyable experience.


  • What is nursing diagnosis ineffective breastfeeding?
    Nursing diagnosis ineffective breastfeeding is the inability to provide an adequate supply of milk to the infant during breastfeeding. This condition can be caused by a variety of factors such as incorrect positioning, insufficient breastmilk production, inadequate latch technique and psychological issues.
  • What are the signs and symptoms of ineffective breastfeeding?
    The signs and symptoms of ineffective breastfeeding vary and can range from shortness of breath to pain or discomfort during feeds. Other signs may include the mother falling asleep during feeding, expressing displeasure with the feeding process, expressing feelings of inadequacy, decreased milk production, and the baby displaying signs of hunger shortly after feeding.
  • What are the risks of ineffective breastfeeding?
    One of the risks of ineffective breastfeeding is dehydration in the infant, as well as poor nutrition. In addition to this, postpartum depression, mastitis, and birth defects have all been associated with ineffective breastfeeding.
  • How can I prevent ineffective breastfeeding?
    There are several ways to prevent ineffective breastfeeding. These include educating yourself and getting sufficient support, getting plenty of rest, monitoring the baby’s hunger signs, and seeking professional assistance if necessary. Additionally, taking the time to make sure that the baby has a good latch at the start can also help.
  • What types of interventions are used to treat ineffective breastfeeding?
    Interventions used to treat ineffective breastfeeding may consist of breastfeeding assistance, supportive interaction, instruction and teaching, as well as nursing activities like assessing the mother and baby, providing emotional support, and referring the mother to the necessary support systems.

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