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How Mount Nittany Health supports breastfeeding mothers

Long recognized as the gold standard in infant feeding, breastfeeding is recommended by numerous health promotion organizations. The Keystone 10 initiative — in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics — is a statewide, science-based program to improve the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding, with the ultimate goal of improving the health of infants and families.

The AAP recommends, “exclusive breastfeeding for about six months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, with continuation of breastfeeding for one year or longer, as mutually desired by mother and infant.” For the baby, benefits include decreased risks of illness, allergies, asthma, obesity, diabetes, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and certain childhood cancers. For mother, risks of breast, ovarian and uterine cancers are decreased, as well as the risk for postpartum depression. And for both mother and baby, breastfeeding provides a strong bonding experience.

More about Keystone 10

Launched in March 2015, the initiative is modeled on the World Health Organization’s evidence-based, “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.” These steps include staff education about breastfeeding, encouraging baby’s skin-to-skin contact with parents and developing a comprehensive feeding policy. Not all families choose to or can breastfeed, however, and Keystone 10 guidelines support detailed and personalized education about how to safely and effectively feed both breast- and formula-fed babies.

To date, Keystone 10 has enrolled 89 Pennsylvania hospitals and birthing centers in the program. Research has shown that women who deliver a baby at a hospital and implement these steps have higher rates of breastfeeding initiation and duration.

At Mount Nittany Health

In an effort to better serve Central Pennsylvania families, the women & children’s services department at Mount Nittany Medical Center has joined Keystone 10, and as of April 2018, more than half of its nursing staff has completed a 15-hour breastfeeding training program. This knowledge and expertise are then passed on to mothers and fathers as part of the care of the family after birth. Patients leave the hospital with more education, and therefore are more confident in their ability to continue breastfeeding after discharge.

Women who choose to breastfeed benefit from a lot of support, especially in the days immediately following birth. That is where the nursing staff in women & children’s services plays an active role in implementing the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.” One key step in the process trains nurses how to help a new mother breastfeed, and how to educate families about common problems and solutions.

For continued support, at discharge from the Medical Center, breastfeeding families are also referred to resources in the community such as La Leche League, Penn State’s breastfeeding support program, and local lactation consultants, including several lactation consultants at Mount Nittany Medical Center and Mount Nittany Physician Group.

Support for nursing mothers extends across the health system. Kate Geier, CRNP, Mount Nittany Physician Group Pediatrics — herself in the process of becoming a lactation consultant — recently set up a room at the Boalsburg pediatrics location with a rocking chair, soothing music, and other comforts of home, for both consultations and for mothers to nurse during well-baby visits.

Molly Buchanan, RN, IBCLC, works in women & children’s services at Mount Nittany Medical Center and is certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners.