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Off to a good start: Tell women what to expect
Build confidence with prenatal breastfeeding ed
(Editor's note: In response to the surgeon general's "Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding," in last month's issue we covered best practice for initiating breastfeeding after birth, writing policy for education, and follow-up education after discharge. This month, we discuss prenatal breastfeeding education and what to cover in the curriculum.)
How much breastfeeding education should take place prenatally? "The more a mom knows about breastfeeding before her baby is born, the more likelihood of success," says Pam Chay, RN, IBCLC, patient care coordinator for multiple births and education at Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH) in Chicago.
A three-hour class, offered three times each week, at Northwestern Memorial gives couples the information they need to walk away empowered to have a successful breastfeeding experience, she adds. "They have the tools and how to apply them when they have their baby. They feel more comfortable when they complete the class," she says.
Holding prenatal breastfeeding classes is evidence-based practice, says Laurie Mastrone, RNC, IBCLC, a lactation consultant at St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport, CT. "Women that are prepared and have prenatal education tend to feel more confident and do much better," Mastrone explains.
A prenatal breastfeeding class helps pull together fragmented education during clinic visits, she says. Often couples do not get enough information to make an informed decision about what is best for them and the health benefits of breastfeeding, Mastrone adds. Also a prenatal breastfeeding class helps mothers become better advocates for themselves during the birth process. They are better able to state what they want, such as having the baby placed on their abdomen for skin-to-skin contact. They can ask nurses to hold off on the bath to embrace what is known as the "golden hour," says Mastrone.
"I think prenatally women tend to be more like a sponge, absorbing information," she says. "Once a woman delivers, she is distracted by the recovery of delivery and visitors. Also, post delivery, she can get information overload."
Curriculum not a guessing game
Mastrone, who recently revised her prenatal breastfeeding curriculum, determined what to teach with the aid of several guidelines.
In April 2010, St. Vincent's Medical Center was designated a Baby-Friendly Hospital. Therefore, she uses guidelines from Baby-Friendly USA based in East Sandwich, MA, to help determine what to teach, such as informing all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding. This nonprofit organization implements the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative in the United States. (For more detailed information on what the class covers, see article on p. 56.) Also she used Protocol 19, "Breastfeeding Promotion in the Prenatal Setting," from the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine based in New Rochelle, NY. In addition she refers to the web site of the American Academy of Pediatrics in Elk Grove Village, IL. (For more information, see resources, right.)
The class is about two hours long and offered at no cost to couples, regardless of whether they will give birth at St. Vincent's Medical Center. Those who attend are given a list of suggested books to read as well as web sites to access. The books include: "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding," The Breastfeeding Book," "The Nursing Mother's Companion," and "The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers." Suggested web sites include: American Academy of Pediatrics, Baby Friendly USA, and the Connecticut Breastfeeding Coalition.
To determine what to teach in the prenatal breastfeeding class at Northwestern Memorial, Chay reviewed literature for best practice. When the curriculum was revised and updated recently, she added information that addressed all the frequently asked questions. At the hospital, she spoke with nurses and international board certified lactation consultants about what they thought was important for parents to learn. Also she surveyed fathers who attended the breastfeeding classes to see what they thought was important for them.
The class is three hours long and costs $50 per couple. Couples receive a book by Amy Spangler titled "Breastfeeding: A Parents Guide." They are also given a DVD called "Breastfeeding Intensive."
"We encourage the moms and dads to go home and look through the book and watch the DVD," Chay says. "If they have any other people in their lives who are going to be supporting them in their breastfeeding journey, we ask that they watch it with them as well. In that way everyone has the basic knowledge, and they are all on the same page."
For more information about creating curriculum for a prenatal breastfeeding class, contact:
Pam Chay, RN, IBCLC, Patient Care Coordinator, Multiple Births and Education, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, 250 E. Superior, No. 03-2201, Chicago, IL 60611. Telephone: (312) 472-8946. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For support of prenatal breastfeeding education classes, go to:
Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, 140 Huguenot St., Third Floor, New Rochelle, NY 10801. Telephone: (800) 990-4226 or (914) 740-2115. Web: www.bfmed.org.
American Academy of Pediatrics, 141 Northwest Point Blvd., Elk Grove Village, IL 60007. Telephone: (847) 434-4000. Web: www.aap.org.
Baby-Friendly USA, 327 Quaker Meeting House Road, East Sandwich, MA 02537. Web: www.babyfriendlyusa.org.
Connecticut Breastfeeding Coalition, P.O. Box 203, Old Lyme, CT 06371. Web: breastfeedingct.org.
Books and DVDs:
Breastfeeding: A Parent's Guide by Amy Spangler is available at www.babygooroo.com. Select "Store." The book is $12.50, discounts for multiple orders: 25-499 books, $4.75 each; 500-999 books, $4.25 each; and 1,000 plus books, $3.75 each.
Breastfeeding Intensive produced by Mother of 7 available at www.motherof7.com for $57 plus shipping and handling.
The following books are listed on a resource list for couples attending prenatal breastfeeding classes at St. Vincent's Medical Center. Those attending order the books from Borders, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon.
The Breastfeeding Book by Martha and William Sears. Available for $14.99 plus shipping and handling at www.drsearsfamilyessentials.com under "Books."
The Nursing Mother's Companion by Kathleen Huggins, RN, MS, is available for purchase through Barnes & Noble at search.barnesandnoble.com/Nursing-Mothers-Companion/Kathleen-Huggins/e/9781558323049. The cost is $9.95 plus shipping and handling. For a complete list of bookstores where this book is available for purchase go to www.nursingmotherscompanion.com.
The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers by Jack Newman, MD, and Teresa Pitman is available at Dr. Jack Newman & Edith Kernerman website for $30.00 plus shipping and handling. Web: www.drjacknewman.com/default.asp. Click on books and DVDs.
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding available from La Leche League International at www.llli.org. Click on store then click on breastfeeding. The cost is $16.95 plus shipping and handling.