The Gift of a Mother Partner

Posted August 05, 2015 by Rebekka Henriksen

Rebekka Henriksen and Family
Rebekka Henriksen with her three boys.
This is one of a series of posts for National Breastfeeding Month about NICHQ's work to improve breastfeeding-related maternity care practices in hospitals.

In my role as Mother Chair for the New York State Breastfeeding Quality Improvement in Hospitals (BQIH) Collaborative, it has been my privilege to help participating hospital teams connect with and utilize their local parent partners. At times, however, hospital teams struggle with the why’s (why is this role important) and how’s (how can a parent, and more specifically, a mother partner contribute to the implementation of the 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding).

Mother partners are moms who have given birth at the participating hospital within the last 3 years and are passionate about supporting other mothers and their babies in successfully beginning breastfeeding. Rather than being merely totem team members, mother partners can play an invaluable role in your facility’s breastfeeding initiative if given the opportunity. Here’s how.

Mother partners can offer real time feedback on how the implementation of breastfeeding friendly steps is received. They can give advice on how to communicate these initiatives to moms, both in the prenatal and postpartum periods, so that policies are understood and accepted. A great way to utilize your partner is in the development and testing of scripts that staff members can use for patient education and communication. During one of your team meetings, ask your parent partner to role-play with staff members, testing out how successfully information is communicated, and rehearsing different patient/caregiver scenarios that could arise. This is a wonderful opportunity for staff members to practice active listening skills.

Mother partners can provide insight into some of the obstacles patients bring with them to the delivery and recovery room, whether those be an unsupportive partner, antipathy towards or misunderstanding of breastfeeding due to cultural, familial, or personal biases, a prior unsuccessful (and perhaps painful) breastfeeding attempt and so on. Is a mother reluctant to allow baby to initiate breastfeeding because no one in her family has breastfed? Is a mother against rooming in because she remembers the difficulty she had healing from a prior Cesarean section and her partner is home with her older child, leaving her without someone to help her in those initial 24 hours? Is she overwhelmed by visitors and embarrassed to attempt breastfeeding in front of them? Such information can provide greater context for staff and generate different approaches, rather than relying on “one size fits all.”

Mother partners can share both their own experiences and those of her “tribe;” the mothers she encounters online and in real life. Asking mother partners to actively seek stories from their peers, particularly those who have birthed at the participating hospital, can provide feedback on how to proceed, perhaps reveal how staff are interacting with mothers (or how such interactions are perceived by mothers), and how to identify opportunities for gentle education and support. Mother partners can also canvass formula feeding moms they know, asking what might have made the difference for them in hospital that may have changed their feeding decision. They can provide advice on what to include in discharge packets and how to connect breastfeeding mothers to peer support, which has proven to be critical in breastfeeding outcomes, whether in duration or mother satisfaction.

Mother partner can contribute to breastfeeding support groups through her attendance and peer facilitation. Mother partners can also help by presenting at any prenatal education classes your facility offers. A brief presentation from a mother peer on her own breastfeeding journey and what mothers can expect during their hospital stay can have a huge impact on how breastfeeding policies are received and the acceptance of immediate skin to skin and 23 hour rooming in.


Making it Easy to Engage
As mother partners are often in the intensive early years of mothering, some steps can be taken to facilitate their participation and level of engagement. Scheduling meetings at times when your partner can participate is crucial–mid-day can help moms who still have children on nap schedules, or mid-morning if that is a time her children are happier. It can be difficult for mothers to attend meetings in person; allowing for participation via conference call or virtual webinar can allow busy moms to contribute regularly. I encourage teams to invite your mother partner to email or call outside of official meetings if she has ideas, suggestions or concerns.

A successfully engaged mother partner can only have a positive impact on your team’s success. When in doubt, ask your mother partner what inspires her to participate and how she would like to contribute.


Rebekka Henriksen is the Mother Chair for the New York State Breastfeeding Quality Improvement in Hospitals (BQIH) Collaborative.


Learn more about NICHQ's breastfeeding work at http://breastfeeding.nichq.org/


Share:

Add your comment

 
 

 

Archive

Tagcloud

QI quality improvement sustainabilty im coiin nichq preterm birth Baby-Friendly breastfeeding Pediatric journal Best Fed Beginnings infant health safe sleep tips PDSA cycle baby box infant mortality family engagement eccs coiin immunizations health equity health disparities accreditation astho onboarding collaboration engagement partnerships larc nashp new york wic new york state hospitals mom mother partners epilepsy data AAP early childhood pdsas texas community support learning session children's health new technology engineering transgender collaborative learning planning PDSA planning paralysis underplanning analysis paralysis vision eye health smoking smoke-free housing second-hand smoke toolkit e-module dental care oral health underserved populations health inequity public health Maternal and Child Health Journal leadership engagement Sickle cell disease indiana SCD medicaid perinatal regionalization sudden infant death syndrome national birth defects prevention month birth defects pregnancy planning one key question prepregnancy health preconception health public breastfeeding support families patients experts insights CHOPT childhood obesity innovation food desert telemedicine TBLC breastfeeding supporting prematurity racial disparities audiology ehdi follow-up illinois talana hughes vulnerable populations sports asthma soccer basketball obesity football SIDS Pokemon Go gamification smartphones interconception care birth spacing issue brief contraceptive use postpartum care CoIN HRSA early childhood trauma NHSA community health consumer advocacy womens health interconception health teenage health PATCH wisconsin missouri risk appropriate care community health workers SCD< infographic infant mortality awareness month inspirations childrens health national breastfeeding month maternal health patient engagement hearing loss hearing treatment pediatric vision vision screening eyesight pre-term birth early-term birth SCD clinic los angeles LOCATe CDC levels of care neonatal care maternal care smoking cessation project safe sleep practices neonatal abstinence syndrome NAS opioids maternal and child health MCH Family voices quality care mental health hydroxyurea SCDTDP men dads testing change data sharing state government city government apps sleep AJPM preconception care senior leadership breastfeeding support video series access BQIH exclusive breastfeeding long-acting reversible contraception unplanned pregnancies social determinants of health health innovations Best Babies Zone CoIIN baby boxes Rhode Island progesterone rooming-in parent partner patient and family engagement healthy weight healthy lifestyles primary care telementoring ECHO video conferencing socioemotional health childhood development pediatric Tennessee interview National Coordinating and Evaluation Center medical-legal partnerships mobile app disparities perinatal care overweight obese healthy weight clinic wellness pilot sites data collection education resources paternal engagement risk-appropriate care preterm infants high-risk babies Ten Steps public relations social movement reversible contraceptives medical home pediatric medical home patient transformation facilitator PTF skin-to-skin rooming in prenatal smoking information visualization charts SUID postpartum new mother webinar AMCHP QI Tips ongoing improvement fourth trimester partnership quality and safety coaching leadership support year end holiday message reflections gratitute Medicaid data doctor relationship PQC perinatal quality collaboratives vision care vision health evidence-based guidelines ASH health and wellness healthy living healthy eating home visitors home visiting programs March of Dimes APHA results evaluation supplementation formula reduction video infant loss social media advocacy leadership Berns Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding sustainability stress prenatal care data capacity epidemiologists surveillance data PFAC community partners preconception and interconception care motivational interviewing Native Americans ADHD NICHQ Vanderbilt Assessment Scale ADHD Toolkit system design care coordination skin to skin newborn screening reduce smoking aim statement safe birth Texas Ten Step skin-to-skin contact 10 Steps staff training small tests acute care mother-baby couplet collective impact population health preconception Newborn Screening Program substance abuse breast milk formula milk bank crisis first responders NYC improvement healthcare health system sickle cell diease treatment protocol family health partner maternity care Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network Health Outcomes Cross-Sector Collaboration Knowledge Sharing Child Health