Intermountain Supports Breastfeeding Moms from Pregnancy to Hospital Stay to Pediatric Check-Ups
With immediate and long-term benefits for baby and mom, new enhanced initiative at Intermountain Health expands support for breastfeeding.
Salt Lake City,UT (PRUnderground) January 29th, 2023
Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated their recommendations for breastfeeding to acknowledge the benefits of breastfeeding beyond one year. Intermountain Health has a new initative to help enable mothers and babies take advantage of these recommentations and their related benefits.
In Utah, 92 percent of moms initiate breastfeeding according to state data from 2020, which is really good. But at six months, only 64 percent of Utah moms are breastfeeding,” said Katrina Jensen, a nurse with Intermountain Health. “This data means there is more that Utah women’s health providers and pediatricians can do, to support and encourage moms in their desire to continue to breastfeed beyond six months of age.”
For years clinical research has shown that breastfeeding is linked to decreased rates of lower respiratory tract infections, severe diarrhea, ear infections and childhood obesity, Type 2 diabetes and asthma. Breastfeeding is associated with lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome, as well as other protective effects.
The new recommendations re-state the recommendation for exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life and add the benefits of breastfeeding beyond one year and include:
- Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months. There is no need to introduce infant formula or other sources of nutrition for most infants. Beyond 6 months, breastfeeding should be maintained along with nutritious complementary foods.
- There are continued benefits from breastfeeding beyond one year, and up to two years especially in the mother. Long-term breastfeeding is associated with protections against diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancers of the breast and ovaries.
“With this data in mind, Intermountain Health has a new initiative to support moms who choose to breastfeed at every point of care they receive at Intermountain: from prenatal office visits with an OB or midwife; to their hospital stay for maternity care – which includes labor and delivery, recovery and postpartum care; and then continuing on to support breastfeeding at the pediatrician’s office for their well-baby check-ups,” said Jensen, who has led the work on this initiative.
How doctors, midwives, nurses and lactation consultants enable breastfeeding moms
“Intermountain encourages OB/Gyns and midwives to talk about the benefits of breastfeeding sometime during the second or third trimester prenatal visits and also help them set realistic expectations for breastfeeding and that it can take some practice to get good at it. They can also provide information about virtual or in-person childbirth education and breastfeeding classes,” said Jensen.
“During a mom’s maternity hospital stay, nurses help encourage skin-to-skin contact for mom and baby during the ‘golden hour’ after childbirth. Nurses or lactation consultants help teach and encourage moms who choose to breastfeed, and show them some basic breastfeeding techniques throughout their hospital stay,” said Jensen.
Nurses can also connect moms to outpatient lactation services and other community resources such as La Leche League, that they can access after they get home.
“Intermountain encourages pediatricians to support moms who choose to breastfeed when they check on the newborn in the hospital, and when they come for their well-baby check-ups. At the initial check-ups at three days and two weeks, pediatricians can connect new moms with outpatient lactation services and other community resources that support women and children,” said Jensen.
According to Jensen, at the two week and/or six-week postpartum visit, OB/Gyns and midwives are also encouraged to talk about and support moms who choose to breastfeed and also connect them with outpatient lactation services and community resources.
The initiative also encourages pediatricians to continue to support moms who choose to breastfeed at later well-child visits which are recommended at two, four, six, nine, and 12 months as well as the 18 month and 24-month check-ups. These later visits are an important time to support breastfeeding as moms may be returning to work after maternity leave and then baby will start eating some solid foods at six months of age.
“There are times when breastfeeding doesn’t work as expected or barriers can’t be overcome. Having a premature baby can make breastfeeding a challenge. Breast is best, but fed is best. So, we need to support moms in their feeding goals, whether they choose to formula-feed or breastfeed,” said Jensen.
Families and friends can help support moms who choose to breastfeed
“To be successful at breastfeeding, moms also need to identify who their breastfeeding support people are, and ask for support and encouragement from their partner, family members and others who are part of their social support system. Families can help new moms by helping with other household duties, so mom can focus on breastfeeding and take care of herself,” said Jensen.
For more information
For a list of local outpatient lactation consultant services, contact a nearby hospital or visit intermountainhealth.org
Visit intermountainhealth.org for a free, complete guide to breastfeeding booklet.
Go to the Intermountain Moms Facebook page for videos that answer breastfeeding questions and provide breastfeeding tips.
Intermountainhealth.org has a virtual breastfeeding class available for expectant parents. It’s a one session, two-hour class and offered often. Cost is $15.
There is a national U.S. government program called Women, Infants and Children (WIC) that helps pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women and their children who are at nutritional risk. There is a WIC Hotline that is staffed Monday-Friday from 8 am – 5 pm. They can answer breastfeeding questions over the phone. The phone number is 1-877-942-5437.
About Intermountain Health
Headquartered in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., www.intermountainhealth.org is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,900 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called SelectHealth with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information or updates, see https://intermountainhealthcare.org/news.