Extending Breastfeeding Support in the Community for New Families

Posted March 09, 2017 by Josh Grant

White Mother Nursing Child Outside
Breastfeeding support after birth is as important as education during pregnancy.

Breastfeeding support and education starts long before a baby is born. As part of the Texas Ten Step Star Achiever Breastfeeding Learning Collaborative, many hospitals are aiming to improve their approaches for empowering moms to make the most comfortable feeding choices for their babies.

For the OakBend Medical Center in Richmond, Texas, this means partnering with its local Women, Infant and Children (WIC) agency to create new services and integrate them into an expanded spectrum of care. The goal is to have continuous conversations with moms from conception through the postpartum period so they can commit to their preference when it comes to infant feeding.

“We’ve gone from not being aware of all the different points to talk about breastfeeding to having several opportunities to engage moms and educate them on what services and resources are available,” says Courtney De Jesso, MD, a neonatologist at OakBend.

In addition to training obstetricians and gynecologists on how to promote breastfeeding, OakBend has started prenatal classes and encourages moms to meet with WIC representatives before the delivery. After a baby is born, families can meet with lactation consultants and receive breastfeeding training from the facilities’ nurses. During the discharge class, moms are encouraged to make an appointment with WIC and can attend breastfeeding support groups.

On WIC’s side, that can often mean having some flexibility in order to ensure that moms receive the support they want as soon as possible. Jeanne Lober, RN, IBCLC, a breastfeeding coordinator and clinic supervisor at WIC, notes that some moms will often call in order to move their appointments up rather than waiting weeks. In many cases, these families are brought in the same day or the next day in order to address any immediate concerns or questions about breastfeeding.

“We’re focusing a lot on our appointment system,” says Lober. “We want moms to have an appointment around their due date, so we try to estimate that and encourage them to call whenever they’d like.”

Bringing moms in early ensures that they have necessary support if they face some barriers with breastfeeding at home. In the end, that could help moms continue breastfeeding rather than turning to formula.

Best Practices Make a Difference Early On
To promote breastfeeding among new moms, OakBend has implemented some of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. Specifically, skin-to-skin contact immediately after delivery and rooming-in have become standard practices in the facility. There’s been a marked increase for both: 87.5 percent of moms now experience skin-to-skin contact and 63 percent of families are rooming-in.

“Before we started working in the collaborative, the policy was to bring babies to the nursery,” said Sunu Joy, RNC-MNN, BSN, IBCLC, OakBend’s lactation consultant. “It was a significant change for how we administer care, but it has become accepted as the regular practice.”

Those steps after delivery and the continued support from hospital staff and WIC representatives is making a large difference for moms who give birth in OakBend. In late 2016, the team reported an exclusive breastfeeding rate of 35.8 percent, up from 19 percent when they started participating in the learning collaborative.

The partnership between WIC and OakBend is already seeing results, but as it’s further refined, even more moms will have access to ample breastfeeding support. That model of care might be one that could make a difference for moms around the country.

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