Howard County Nurses Promote Breastfeeding
by Jennifer Walker
First-time mom Lauren Boteler was committed to breastfeeding but nervous about the logistics. “Making sure her head was supported and she was comfortable and I was comfortable…it was pretty nerve-racking,” she says, but Boteler and her newborn daughter, Jemma, soon found the help they needed from Howard County General Hospital’s lactation consultants.
Ten nurses are part of a new initiative, launched in July, that will help more new moms like Boteler successfully breastfeed long-term. Howard County General is one of two Maryland hospitals and 90 hospitals nationwide selected to be part of Best Fed Beginnings—a collaborative program created by the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality (NICHQ)—and aims to obtain Baby-Friendly USA’s “Baby-Friendly” designation by September 2014.
“This is just such a special time for new moms,” says Doris Cybert Wilcher, BSN, RN, IBCLC, the Initiative’s team leader. “When they come to the hospital planning to breastfeed, we want to give them the tools they need to get off to a good start.”
Although 90 percent of new mothers begin breastfeeding at Howard County General, only 40 percent of them nurse exclusively for their entire hospital stay. “Our work is directed at the little steps that make exclusive breastfeeding work for mothers and the staff who are caring for them,” Cybert Wilcher says.
HCGH will work toward promoting prenatal breastfeeding education for all women, encouraging earlier and prolonged skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby, and advocating for decreasing pacifier and formula supplementation. Floor nurses on the maternal/child and labor/delivery units will also receive special training to provide more support for breastfeeding mothers.
As the initiative gets underway, Cybert Wilcher will use I-Lab, the initiative’s online community, to share and learn about best practices at the 89 other participating hospitals. “We hope to grow the best maternal/child practice in Maryland by sharing our experience with other hospitals,” she says.
And what do the new moms have to say? After an hour with the lactation consultants, learning comfortable positions for nursing and holding Jemma, Boteler says, “I don’t think I could have done that on my own,” and she feels confident to continue breastfeeding at home.