Breastfeeding Program

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The Hospital is advocating breastfeeding for all newborns.  As such, pediatricians and all associated health-care professionals shall be recommending human breast milk for all infants, where there are no contraindications identified.  Parents will be provided with comprehensive information on both the benefits and the proper way to breastfeed.

The Hospital will encourage initiation of breastfeeding, as well as the continuance of breastfeeding at home and after the hospitalization.  As such, breast milk substitutes like infant formula—as well as pacifiers—will be highly-discouraged, unless recommended by the neonate’s pediatrician.

Both parents will be educated before and after the delivery.  After the delivery, the Hospital will be encouraging the rooming-in of the baby with his or her mother, to make way for easier and more convenient breastfeeding initiation.

Overall support and training will be provided by the Hospital, in terms of staff education and training.  The Hospital will be responsible for the publication of pamphlets and manuals that touches on the benefits of breastfeeding, and the various guides to proper breastfeeding and answers to common questions about breastfeeding.  These informational materials are to be made available for the public and employees.

The Hospital will be procuring a video to supplement formal instruction on breastfeeding techniques.  The video will be shown as part of the training seminars, which will be conducted to staff personnel.  The seminars will also feature resource speakers.  Each participant will be give an informational kit that contains more information on breastfeeding, its benefits, along with more technical discussion like contraindication, and special guidelines for the health workers.  Each member of the obstetrics department, along with other departments, will be expected to provide assistance to the new mother, provide breastfeeding counseling to pregnant and lactating mothers.  Each will be required to attend an orientation seminar, as well as re-orientation and update seminars that will be held annually.  New hires will be required to complete the orientation seminar.

As an extension, the Hospital will be making all the related materials available on the Internet as part of its online education series that can be found at the Wise and Well section of its Web site, http://www.brhc.org/.  The online module will help the Hospital achieve a  higher reach, and makes the information, video, pamphlets, even recorded sessions readily available.

Participants.  While the educational program will be instituted by the Hospital for the benefit of parents and the general public, and will involve all personnel dealing with prenatal, perinatal and postnatal care, special focus is on the Department of Obstetrics since the department is the most highly impacted by this program.  Apart from dealing with newborns and pregnant women, breastfeeding also shows relevance with reproductive health and general women’s health.  Everyone in the department, from doctors and nurses to clerk and non-medical staff will be required to undergo training.

Measurements and Policies.  The program will be evaluated annually, on implementation on three levels: Hospital-wide, the Department of Obstetrics, and the individual health care professional.  The Hospital administrator will be evaluating the implementation of the program, comparing it to benchmarks set by the Hospital at the start of the program, along with a comparison to the guidelines and best practices in the industry.

Everyone involved will be asked to complete a self-assessment survey that would evaluate their own competency, knowledge, achievements and areas for improvement in the area of breastfeeding promotion, including education of both parents, as well as the public.  Current Hospital policies will be evaluated according to the surveys, and issues will be addressed.

Learning outcomes.  The training to be provided by the program is directed to increasing the knowledge of Hospital staff on breastfeeding benefits and appropriate techniques.  With that knowledge being passed to parents, and with the Hospital’s encouragement and relevant policies, the Hospital hopes to see a rise in both the informed decisions of parents, particularly mothers, to start breastfeeding their babies, and continue to breastfeed even after discharge.

Consequent evaluations of the programs would also provide the Hospital with a potent feedback mechanism, which it could use to further fine tune the program.

The Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding has been proven beneficial both to the mother and the baby.  Experts and public health officials have expressed concerns that “not breastfeeding” could be detrimental to a baby’s health (Rabin, 2006, para. 1).

The United States Food and Drug Administration declares that evidence increasingly points to the fact that babies who are breastfed have lower chances of being hospitalized, lower chances of getting allergies, getting rashes and diseases like diarrhea and ear infections (Williams, 1995, para. 7).

Breast milk contains the right amounts of lactose, water, amino and fatty acids that aids proper digestion, brain development and overall growth.  It also gives the child the mother’s antibodies, thereby giving the baby more protection against a myriad of virus- and bacteria-related illnesses like pneumonia and bronchitis.

Since it comes from the mother’s body, breast milk is also sterile, and has more beneficial ingredients not found in infant formula.  The baby’s jaw also develops properly, and gains a higher probability of having straight  and healthy teeth.  Psychologically, breastfeeding also bonds the mother and the child, promoting a healthy sense of security (Williams, 1995, Human milk for human infants section).

Other than that the Department of Human Services adds that breastfeeding is also tied to earlier development of infant immune system; reduced risk of chronic diseases like childhood cancers, juvenile diabetes, allergic diseases, asthma; decreased incidence of death from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  The baby also stands to develop a higher IQ from enhanced neurological development (paras. 6-7).

To the mother, breastfeeding can help save money, since she doesn’t have to buy any baby formulas.  Other benefits of breastfeeding for the mother includes shedding off the extra pounds from the pregnancy and acting as a contraceptive (Williams, 1995, Benefits to mothers section).

Moreover, the mother’s uterus also returns to its normal size faster.  Also, there is reduced risk of endometrial, breast and ovarian cancers, osteoporosis and bone fracture (Department of Human Services, paras. 8-9).

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends and supports for exclusive breastfeeding for babies from birth until six months, or even longer.

* * *

An ever-growing body of evidence and studies have pointed to the nutritional, physiological, social and psychological benefits of breastfeeding.  As a health care provider and community institution, the Bothwell Regional Health Center deems the education and empowerment of parents to make an informed decision to start and continue to breastfeed their babies.

Health care professionals, specifically the Department of Obstetrics, are in the best position to disseminate this valuable information by way of their personal contacts with new mothers, and their perceived authority on the matter.  The Hospital, through this emphasis on breastfeeding and the implementation of the above mentioned program, hopes to educate its staff to enable them to help and inform new mothers fully and capably.

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