Purpose for the Program
The National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality (NICHQ), working closely with Baby-Friendly USA, has formed a nationwide collaborative titled Best Fed Beginnings. The collaborative awarded participation to 90 hospitals. The goal of the project is for hospitals to implement evidence-based quality improvements to their maternity care services that result in increased breastfeeding support for mothers and their infants. Participation in this collaborative will help hospitals achieve Baby Friendly status. We describe the journey of Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns in this collaborative from the application process through actual designation.
Involvement in the collaborative is focused on applying the 10 steps to successful breastfeeding as outlined by Baby-Friendly USA. Imperative to success is engaging an interdisciplinary team at the hospital, including a mother from the community. Another essential component is the collaborative hospital team's attendance at three learning sessions over the 22-month project. Connecting with other participating hospital teams allows for sharing of best practice strategies, identifying lessons learned, overcoming common barriers, and expediting the Baby Friendly designation process.
Implementation, Outcomes, and Evaluation
Immersion into the collaborative began in June 2012. Established outcomes were identified and were evaluated monthly during the project: (a) 80% of staff caring for healthy mother–baby couplets will receive training on lactation support; (b) the infant feeding policy will be compliant with Baby Friendly guidelines; (c) 100% of staff will complete documentation of pertinent breastfeeding information; (d) ongoing data collection will be automated with the electronic medical record; (e) all breast milk substitutes and supplies will be purchased; and (f) 90% of healthy infants will be exclusively breastfed from birth to discharge.
Implications for Nursing Practice
Literature is replete with the extensive benefits of breastfeeding for mothers, infants, and society. Numerous studies also indicate that exclusive breastfeeding during the early postpartum stay is one of the most influential indicators on duration of breastfeeding after discharge. Hospitals that are designated as Baby Friendly have a demonstrated increase in exclusive breastfeeding rates compared with nondesignated hospitals. Participating in a national collaborative will assist with increasing exclusive breastfeeding rates by culturally changing the breastfeeding practices for healthcare providers and consumers. Subsequently, this will assist the entire United States in meeting the Healthy People 2020 goals.