By Nadine Salmon, MSN, BSN, IBCLC, Clinical Content Specialist AMN Healthcare
Earlier this month, more than 120 countries around the world joined to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7). The event, titled Understanding the Past-Planning the Future, focused on reviewing past breastfeeding practices to determine new ways to support mothers and their infants in today’s ever-changing environment. The celebration was part of the 2012 World Breastfeeding Campaign, which recognizes the importance of breastfeeding and identifies global and governmental goals for breastfeeding (World Alliance of Breastfeeding Action, 2012). The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) is also currently celebrating the ten year anniversary of the World Health Organization’s and United Nation’s Children Fund’s Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding.
Yet, despite the support of prominent agencies and professional bodies, the status of breastfeeding in the United States today remains secondary to bottle-feeding and is not fully accepted as the norm for our infants and toddlers. For various reasons, many new mothers are not choosing to breastfeed or are only breastfeeding for a limited period of time (Jodoin, 2007).
To increase awareness of the many benefits of breastfeeding, WABA encourages nurses to actively educate new mothers and support them in establishing a breastfeeding routine prior to discharge from the hospital. To promote breastfeeding, many hospitals are undertaking “Baby-Friendly Initiatives,” such as adopting policies to support breastfeeding and providing training for postpartum nurses. Many hospitals are also utilizing lactation consultants to provide expert assistance. These initiatives are important resources for nurses and new mothers who need support and education in the early postpartum period.
Expecting mothers are often overwhelmed and unable to retain all of the information provided prior to delivery. To help, nurses can provide written materials, videos and other take-home education materials. Nurses can also recommend various breastfeeding positions and latching techniques, as well as provide emotional support and encouragement. With many new mothers in the hospital only a day or two after delivery, it is also important to offer community resources and support groups to provide continuing education, guidance and support with breastfeeding.
This year, consider using the month of August to remind colleagues, patients and the public of the importance of breastfeeding. As a respected healthcare professional, you can draw attention to the role breastfeeding plays in children’s development and lifelong optimal health for both mother and baby.
To assist you in supporting breastfeeding mothers, review RN.com’s Breastfeeding Challenges in the Early Postpartum Period. This three contact hour CE course provides an overview of some of the more common breastfeeding challenges seen in the early postpartum period. This course will give you the knowledge and tools needed to assist mothers and babies with breastfeeding concerns and promote a solid establishment of lactation prior to discharge.
Jodoin, L. (2007). Nurses Promoting Breastfeeding. Nursing 211: Research Final Versions, Fall 2007. Retrieved from: http://nurs211f07researchfinal.blogspot.com/2007/12/nurses-promoting-breastfeeding.html
La Leche League (2012). La Leche League Leaders and Groups: World Breastfeeding Week. Retrieved from: http://www.lllusa.org/wbw/
World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (2012). 20th World Breastfeeding Week. Retrieved from: http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/
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