When I had my first baby, nearly 18 years ago, I was wearing rose tinted glasses when it came to breastfeeding. Breastfeeding made sense to me, and I knew I would breastfeed my baby. I went to a class to learn all about it. My instructor’s name was Pollyanna Sunshine. Just kidding, but that is what I still call her in my mind all these years later. Pollyanna added to my rose tinted glasses mindset, and I knew everything breastfeeding was going to be great!
That would have worked except that I did encounter some of the very common hurdles associated with breastfeeding. I was ill equipped to handle them, let alone know they were pretty normal. Sadly, I threw in the towel.
Pollyanna probably taught an ok class. The problem may have been more related to the fact that she was the only one dispensing breastfeeding information. The teaching from my doctor was something like, “Will you be breastfeeding or bottle feeding?” The teaching from the nurses in the hospital was something like, “Will you be breastfeeding or bottle feeding?” To that the nurses added, “Ok, we’ll send lactation to your room.”
It really is true that it takes a village. One of our midwives, Kristin Vincent, tells women that “Breastfeeding is natural, but it isn’t always naturally easy.” Since breastfeeding is an undertaking in learning, time and commitment, then it takes equally concerted understanding, time and commitment on the part of all care providers to help women successfully breastfeed.
This kind of commitment is reflected in step 2 of The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. Completion of all 10 Steps is required to receive the UNICEF/WHO Baby-Friendly designation. Baby-Friendly hospitals have higher breastfeeding rates and report increased patient satisfaction.
Here is our self-appraisal for step 2:
STEP 2. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
2.1 Are all staff aware of the advantages of breastfeeding and acquainted with the facility’s policy and services to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding? Yes
2.2 Has the facility designated a position to be responsible for assuring that all staff caring for mothers and babies are properly trained in breastfeeding and lactation management and support? Yes
2.3 Do all staff members caring for pregnant women, mothers and infants receive training on lactation and breastfeeding management and support within six months of hire? Yes
2.4 Does the training cover all of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and The International Code of Breastmilk Substitutes? No
2.5 Does the training cover the proper preparation of infant formula? No
2.6 Is the training on breastfeeding and lactation management at least 20 hours in total, including a minimum of 5 hours of supervised clinical experience? No
2.7 Is the clinical competency in breastfeeding management and support verified for each staff member providing care to mothers and babies? No
2.8 Is the clinical competency in infant formula preparation verified for each staff member providing care to mothers and babies? No
2.9 Do physicians, midwives and advanced practice nurses receive 3 hours of training in lactation and breastfeeding management and support? No
2.10 Is training for non-clinical staff sufficient, given their roles, to provide them with the skills and knowledge to support mothers in successfully breastfeeding their infants? No