Healthcare providers' perceptions of breastfeeding peer counselors in the neonatal intensive care unit

Authors

  • Beverly Rossman,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Women, Children, and Family Nursing, College of Nursing, Armour Academic Center, Rush University, 600 S. Paulina, Suite 1031A, Chicago, IL 60612-3832
    • Department of Women, Children, and Family Nursing, College of Nursing, Armour Academic Center, Rush University, 600 S. Paulina, Suite 1031A, Chicago, IL 60612-3832
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    • Research Associate, Rush University.

  • Janet L. Engstrom,

    1. Department of Women, Children, and Family Nursing, College of Nursing, Armour Academic Center, Rush University, 600 S. Paulina, Suite 1031A, Chicago, IL 60612-3832
    2. Frontier Nursing University, Hyden, KY
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    • Associate Dean of Research, Frontier Nursing University; Professor, Rush University.

  • Paula P. Meier

    1. Department of Women, Children, and Family Nursing, College of Nursing, Armour Academic Center, Rush University, 600 S. Paulina, Suite 1031A, Chicago, IL 60612-3832
    2. Department of Pediatrics, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL
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    • Director for Clinical Research and Lactation; Professor, Rush University Medical Center.


  • This research was supported in part by a grant from the National Institute of Health, Grant NR010009. Special acknowledgement is due to Rebekah Hamilton for assistance in the presentation of the findings from the diffusion of innovations theory.

Abstract

In this qualitative descriptive study we examined the perceptions of 17 neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) healthcare providers (nurses, neonatologists, lactation consultants, and dietitians) about the role of breastfeeding peer counselors who were mothers of former NICU infants and who provided primary lactation care in the NICU. Findings revealed that the healthcare providers respected the peer counselors' lactation expertise and identified three critical elements that contributed to the effectiveness of the peer counseling program: having a champion for the program, counselors being mothers of former NICU infants, and a NICU culture supportive of using human milk. Healthcare providers thought the peer counselors enhanced care of the infant by empowering mothers to provide milk and by facilitating and modeling positive patterns of maternal–infant interactions. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 35:460–474, 2012

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