TJC campaign helps mothers to breastfeed

Brochure covers before/after delivery

Pregnant women and new mothers need information and support so they can plan and be proactive if they choose to breastfeed their babies, according to The Joint Commission's (TJC's) newest Speak Up educational campaign.

The Joint Commission launched this campaign to highlight the health benefits of breastfeeding and the importance of support for mothers and babies who are breastfeeding. The campaign is supported by the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine; American Academy of Pediatrics; Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses; Baby-Friendly USA; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; March of Dimes; and United States Breastfeeding Committee.

The Joint Commission's new campaign, "What You Need to Know About Breastfeeding," covers topics such as preparing during pregnancy for breastfeeding, talking with nurses and doctors in the hospital about the desire to breastfeed, maintaining skin-to-skin contact with a newborn in the hospital, and planning for breastfeeding after leaving the hospital. The campaign brochure provides helpful tips and encourages mothers to rely on a support team of family members, friends, lactation consultants, nurses, and doctors to reach their breastfeeding goals.

"Breastfeeding is a natural experience, but it is a skill that often needs to be learned," says Ana Pujols-McKee, M.D., executive vice president and chief medical officer, The Joint Commission. "It is important that mothers know there are support systems to help them start and keep on breastfeeding. Mothers should ask questions about breastfeeding before their baby is born and while they are in the hospital. This will help mothers continue to breastfeed after they go home."

The many health benefits of breastfeeding for newborns include providing a natural source of nutrients, fewer ear and respiratory infections, and less risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Women who breastfeed have less postpartum depression, as well as lower rates of breast and ovarian cancers.

The Joint Commission's new breastfeeding education campaign is part of the award-winning Speak Up program that urges people to take an active role in their own healthcare.

The basic framework of the Speak Up campaign urges patients to:

• Speak up if you have questions or concerns, and if you do not understand, ask again. It is your body and you have a right to know.

• Pay attention to the care you are receiving. Make sure you're getting the right treatments and medications by the right health care professionals. Do not assume anything.

• Educate yourself about your diagnosis, the medical tests you are undergoing, and your treatment plan.

• Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate.

• Know what medications you take and why you take them. Medication errors are the most common health care errors.

• Use a hospital, clinic, surgery center, or other type of health care organization that has undergone a rigorous on-site evaluation against established state-of-the-art quality and safety standards, such as that provided by The Joint Commission.

• Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of the health care team.

Speak Up brochures also are available on the topics of dialysis patients who are hospitalized, diabetes patients who are hospitalized, visiting the doctor's office, understanding medical tests, recovering after leaving the hospital, preventing medication mistakes, preventing infections, health literacy, preparing to become a living organ donor, avoiding mistakes in your surgery, and preventing errors in care.

The campaign includes animated Speak Up videos in English and Spanish intended as public service announcements. They air on The Joint Commission's YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/TheJointCommission), on The Joint Commission web site (http://www.jointcommission.org/multimedia/default.aspx), and in other venues. The cast of characters in the videos encounter everyday situations where they have to read instructions, inspect labels, and "speak up" to ask their doctors and caregivers questions. The brochures and videos can be found on The Joint Commission web site (http://www.jointcommission.org/speakup.aspx).

Resource

To sign up to receive future issues of Speak Up, join the Speak Up E-Alerts list. Go to http://www.jointcommission.org. Under "Action Center," select "Sign up for News and Alerts." Next, select "Sign up or update your subscription e-Alerts here." Under "Topic Library," select "Speak up."