• breast milk pumping;
  • mentoring;
  • premature infant

Poster Presentation

  1. Top of page
  2. Poster Presentation

Purpose for the Program

Discussions between the staff nurses in the neonatal intensive care unit and the parent education and lactation services resulted in an interest in improving breastfeeding outcomes in a level III neonatal intensive care unit after attending a professional conference. Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life continuing for 1 year or more is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Although the ill or premature infant may benefit most from its mother's own milk, obstacles leading to successful breastfeeding can occur when mothers and infants are separated during hospitalization. Mentoring provides a safe environment in which new skills can be developed and transferred into actual practice.

Proposed Change

This collaborative effort between managers, physicians, neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) staff nurses, nurse lactation consultants, and nurse research facilitator/neonatal nurse practitioner seeks to enhance communication between members of both departments and explore clinical pathways to help vulnerable infants to receive their mother's milk.

Implementation, Outcomes, and Evaluation

A written plan was submitted and approved by managers from both units. Three key members were selected from each department to meet on a monthly basis. The first project was to improve the NICU staff nurses’ knowledge and skills necessary for initiation of lactation and pumping of breast milk. Key members from parent education and lactation services taught breast milk pumping skills to key members from the NICU. A pretest of five basic questions on breast milk pumping was developed and administered to the NICU staff. A computer-based program consisting of an educational slide presentation was developed by the team and sent to the NICU staff. The pretest had a 17.2% response rate from the NICU staff on five basic questions. Two questions were answered correctly by 50% of the staff and three questions were answered correctly by 80%. The goal is for 90% of the staff to correctly answer all five basic questions. The posttest had a 8.6% response rate, three questions were answered correctly by 90%, and two questions were answered correctly by 60% of the staff. Support for education by managers on infant nutrition and breastfeeding should be developed for NICU staff, especially for nurses considering a clinical ladder. Prospectively, factors associated with breastfeeding outcomes may be investigated.

Implications for Nursing Practice

This pilot project can be expanded to other maternal–child units in the hospital system.