Breastfeeding is recognized as the best nutritional source for healthy infants. Unfortunately, breastfeeding rates in Baltimore city are well below the national average, so the University of Maryland Medical Center acknowledges the need to focus efforts on breastfeeding practices and do more to educate and support mothers within the community.
After a thorough evaluation, UMMC kicked off a commitment to embark on the journey to become a Baby Friendly designated hospital. UMMC follows the “10 Steps to Breastfeeding success” as outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The “10 Steps” involve all aspects of breastfeeding and include the efforts which begin in the pre-natal period and go beyond birth and delivery until breastfeeding is well established.
A mother’s choice to breastfeed is heavily influenced by education, cultural norms and how well the mother is supported in learning to breastfeed. Although breastfeeding is a natural process, its success does take some practice and support. UMMC saw the need to do more to support mothers from the prenatal phase through labor and delivery and beyond hospitalization in those early post-partum weeks. In cohesive efforts to influence breastfeeding rates, UMMC nursing and medical staff have partnered with affiliated pre-natal clinics, called B’More Health Babies, as well as the Baltimore City Health Department and University of Maryland School of Nursing colleagues to approach breastfeeding education and support across the continuum of care.
UMMC nursing and provider staffs are in the process of completing specialty training on breastfeeding. This is an endeavor that includes all staff who works with nursing mothers with the highest level of training demanded of maternal/newborn nurses who all have completed 20 hours of didactic and practical training on breastfeeding. Pediatric nurses, midwives, obstetricians, pediatricians, family practice providers, medical assistants and nursing assistants also receive additional training on how to support nursing mothers – a topic glossed over up to now in most nursing and medical school curricula.
Onsite Lactation Support
University of Maryland Medical Center has expanded lactation support to include six days a week of onsite coverage, a telephone hotline, and firstname.lastname@example.org email for questions and advice. UMMC nursing and provider staffs are committed to extending this support to community mothers with the kick off of both inpatient breastfeeding support groups held weekly on the Mother Baby unit and a monthly community breastfeeding support group free to the public within the Family Medicine clinic. UMMC is also committed to supporting our staff with the employee lactation lounge located on first floor of the Weinberg building where hospital grade breast pumps are available for our own UMMC community of nursing mothers.
Having health professionals, support persons, peer mentors and others who can assist in teaching and reinforcing skills are critical to maternal success. In partnering with providers, advocacy groups and agencies, UMMC staff are working to ensure patients are provided the education and resources needed for success.
For more information on UMMC’s lactation support programs, email us at email@example.com .