Using Evidence to Develop Best Practices Strengthening Breastfeeding Support on Perinatal Units

Carol Ann Friedman, Walden University


Ample research has been found to suggest that there is no substitute, either nutritionally or emotionally, that can replace the benefits of human milk for human infants. Despite this recognition, the attitude still exists that infant formula is a reasonable alternative. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), World Health Organization (WHO), and United Nation Children's Fund (UNICEF) share policy statements endorsing human milk as the optimal infant nutrition for the first 15 months. Accordingly, WHO and UNICEF launched The Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative established in 1991 to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding. Despite this unilateral support of breastfeeding, nursing and physician educational curriculums do not include lactation education, which limits the knowledge of those who provide care to the mother and newborn dyad. The purpose of this project is to promote staff lactation education and training on the infant feeding practices by encouraging breastfeeding in a hospital setting. This project includes lactation education and hands-on training for staff. A 20-hour didactic lactation education course will meet the requirements to ensure that staff training will assist in supporting patients with the early initiation of breastfeeding. Furthermore, training will include clinical competencies to evaluate the knowledge, practice patterns, and confidence of the staff. Lactation education for providers will be provided through an online course designed to improve their ability to support breastfeeding among their patients. The result of this project will assist hospital leadership to determine specific education and training for staff in increasing exclusive breastfeeding rates among their patient population.