Background: Despite the critical importance of breast milk for preterm and sick neonates, there is no consensus regarding the use of raw mother's own milk (MOM) in neonatal units. Objectives: This study aimed to describe the use of raw MOM in hospitalised neonates before day 7 (early use), and to investigate: (i) related factors, (ii) maternal satisfaction, and (iii) the association with breastfeeding continuation. Methods: This prospective cohort included 516 neonates intended to be breastfed in 2 French neonatal units. Neonates receiving raw MOM before day 7 were compared to those who did not. The association between early use of MOM and breastfeeding continuation at hospital discharge, and up to 6 months later, was measured by logistic regression. Results: More than one-third (36.2%) of breastfed neonates did not receive any MOM during their first week, mainly due to organisational constraints and staff reluctance. Maternal satisfaction related to early raw MOM use was high (96%), and was coupled with a more frequent maternal feeling of being supported in breastfeeding (p = 0.003). There was a significant association between early use of MOM and breastfeeding continuation at discharge (OR 2.92, 95% CI 1.94-4.40, p < 0.0001), which persisted 6 months later (OR 2.70, 95% CI 1.21-6.03, p = 0.023). This association appeared independent in multivariable analyses (at discharge: aOR 2.03, 95% CI 1.27-3.25, p = 0.003; 6 months later: aOR 2.46, 95% CI 1.02-5.92, p = 0.045). Conclusion: While the early use of raw MOM in hospitalised neonates can be limited by multiple factors, it appears supportive for mothers, and might represent a simple opportunity to improve breastfeeding in neonatal units.

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