Breastfeeding and the Baby Friendly Initiative: An Evidence-Based Physician Education Program


Poster Presentation

Purpose for the Program

Breastfeeding is well established in the literature as the best method of infant feeding. Although physicians agree breastfeeding is best for the infant, inadequate training or fear of inducing guilt among mothers makes some physicians hesitant to promote it. Research indicates that if breastfeeding women are supported by their health care professionals, breastfeeding rates increase. Physician support is believed to be strengthened by increasing breastfeeding knowledge of physicians who are involved with women who intend to breastfeed or are breastfeeding. The purpose of this project is to design an evidence-based physician education program that supports the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative and promotion of the benefits of breastfeeding to obstetricians and pediatricians.

Proposed Change

The synthesized evidence was used to develop a comprehensive, evidence-based, physician-focused, breastfeeding education program. The education program was comprised of two parts: a 30-minute lunch and learn presentation and an interactive online learning module. During the lunch and learn session, an overview of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, breastfeeding benefits and management, and physician's role in supporting the breastfeeding woman were reviewed. The interactive online learning module provided case scenarios physicians may encounter when working with breastfeeding women. An education resource manual was developed to supplement breastfeeding knowledge and identify and promote community resources to support pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Implementation, Outcomes, and Evaluation

This program was offered to 60 physicians who work with expectant and breastfeeding women over a 4-month period at a hospital in south Orange County, California. The hospitals/maternity centers who partner with these physicians can anticipate improved health outcomes for mothers and infants, increased patient satisfaction, and meet Joint Commission maternity care standards for exclusive breast milk feeding. After completion of this education program, physicians should utilize their enhanced knowledge, skills, and resources and become a Baby-Friendly office. Further research is needed to determine which physician education techniques directly correlate with increased breastfeeding rates.

Implications for Nursing Practice

Physicians will have the opportunity to provide competent, hands-on family-centered care through utilization of their increased knowledge and attitudes regarding breastfeeding.