A Breastfeeding-Friendly Approach to Pediatric Care Raises Breastfeeding Rates

Rates of breastfeeding are deeply affected by the support a breastfeeding mother receives – starting with her husband or other adults closely involved in the baby’s care. A key part of a woman’s breastfeeding village is her baby’s pediatric office. In the United States, new parents typically visit pediatric offices five times for well-child visits in the baby’s first six months, compared to one or two postpartum checkups with the woman’s prenatal care-giver.

So how important is the role of the pediatric office in encouraging breastfeeding of its patients? According to a study conducted by a doctoral student at the University of Virginia’s School of Nursing, very important. Sharon Corriveau applied a clinical protocol developed by the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine to a pediatric office. The office trained staff to support breastfeeding, hired a board-certified lactation nurse, eliminated  formula promotions, encouraged mothers to breastfeed, and improved insurance coverage of breastfeeding-related services for their patients.

The findings were impressive. When comparing the mothers receiving the experimental breastfeeding-friendly care to a control group:

  • 35% more chose to exclusively breastfeed their babies at birth (80% vs 59%),
  • 33% more were still exclusively breastfeeding at their babies’ two-month well-child visits (52% vs 39%), and
  • 57% more were still exclusively breastfeeding their babies at the six month mark (33% vs 21%).

A breastfeeding-friendly world with supportive pediatric care clearly would help more mothers exclusively breastfeed their infants for longer. A careful look at the findings to see the whole picture of the impact on breastfeeding would be useful, such as whether the protocol trains husbands/partners to assist the breastfeeding mother, how many more mothers breastfed – regardless of whether it was exclusive versus supplemented by formula – would be interesting, etc. Here is the press release from UVA:
http://www.virginia.edu/uvatoday/newsRelease.php?id=18872

How has your pediatric office’s support affected your ability to breastfeed your children? Or if you work in a pediatric office, what have you seen work well in this regard?

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