Optimize breastfeeding support to better assist new moms
The first week of October is the 40th week of the year. Since 1992, this symbolic moment, which recalls the length of a full-term gestation, has been used to highlight the importance of breastfeeding. From October 1 to 7, 2022, the 31st edition of World Breastfeeding Week will be celebrated.
Breastfeeding and its benefits are widely accepted in the medical world. However, starting to breastfeed, especially for a first-time mom, can have its share of pitfalls. That's why the Obstetrics Department of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) has recently set up an in-house training program on breastfeeding support for all its nursing staff.
The MUHC team has an additional challenge in providing birth support: many of the cases it receives remain complex. The need to improve the consistency of breastfeeding care and support led Marie-Josée Bourassa, coordinator of the Women's Health Mission, and Magdalena Arciszewska, a clinical nurse specialist and breastfeeding consultant, to develop a training program adapted to the specificities of the MUHC. Their target: the nursing staff working at D6, who help women start breastfeeding in the best possible way every day.
"It's important for us that mothers have all the tools to breastfeed if they want to do it. Some women give up on breastfeeding when it is important to them because they lack support, so they lose motivation," says Magdalena. Training staff to respond appropriately ensures that new moms will receive the same level of service regardless of which nurse is on duty."
The benefits of breastfeeding are particularly noticeable with infants who have a more difficult start, especially those born prematurely. If a patient finds herself in a situation in which starting to breastfeed is more difficult, the D6 staff is trained in alternatives that can still allow her to feed her baby breast milk, if she wishes. Whether it is exclusive or hybrid breast pumping, the use of facilitating equipment or supplementation, every effort is made to allow breastfeeding. Among the objectives of the training, we also note the desire to equip front-line staff to help not only with women who have just given birth, but also those who are expecting a baby.
A successful initiative for more consistent care
It is clear that the 22-hour training was well received by the D6 staff. To date, more than 90 per cent of the staff has taken the course. Soon, the entire team will have received consistent instruction and guidance. Nurse Altagrace Rigueur, herself a mother of four, says she has become not only better equipped, but also better able to help patients.
‘’It really helps the staff to feel confident, so the patient is better supervised," explains Altagrace . I am reassured that I am giving the right information to the parents and I am now more in control in my interventions!"