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New Jersey nurses contribute to state’s increased breast-feeding rates

More new mothers are breast-feeding in New Jersey thanks to concerted efforts by the state’s department of health as well as nurses who are educating women about the benefits and supporting them after delivery.

“Nurses are encouraging breast-feeding with their patients by changing the culture within the healthcare system,” said Audra Burton-Easterbrook, BSN, RN, LCCE, IBCLC, lactation consultant and childbirth educator at St. Joseph’s Healthcare System in Paterson. “Nurses can provide the needed reassurance for success.”

In New Jersey, ever breast-fed rates are up 5.9% from last year to 81.6%, breast-feeding at six months is up 18.6% to 56.2% and exclusive breast-feeding for that time period is up 71.5% to 22.3%, according to New Jersey’s Department of Health. That compares with national rates of 79.2%, 49.4% and 18.8%, respectively, according to the state’s department of health.

“Exclusivity provides long-term health benefits,” said Joyce McKeever, MS, RN, IBCLC, LCCE, director of clinical services at the Center for Breastfeeding at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune.

Breast-feeding benefits

Melita Jordan, RN

“Breas-tfeeding provides the optimal nutrition for a baby,” McKeever said. “It’s easily digested, and it provides a lot of protection to the newborn.”

That includes reduced risk of newborn infections, diabetes later in life, obesity, asthma and SIDS. Maternal benefits include less postpartum bleeding and decreased breast and ovarian cancer rates for moms.

“It’s very beneficial to the baby, the mom and the economy,” said Suzanne O’Neill, BSN, RN, IBCLC, a lactation consultant at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston.

Breast-feeding can save families $1,500 or more a year and the economy $13 billion per year if 90% of mothers breastfed for six months, Burton-Easterbrook said.

What makes N.J. different?

The N.J. Department of Health has undertaken several initiatives to boost breastfeeding rates. In 2011, New Jersey received funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, enabling it to provide 10 maternity hospitals with $10,000 in grants to support them in their pursuit of Baby-Friendly hospital status, a World Health Organization program that recognizes hospitals promoting breastfeeding with a 10-step program.

New Jersey also has incorporated the 10 steps into its licensing regulations for maternity hospitals.

Two years later, the state received a federal State Public Health Actions grant to support hospitals with breastfeeding initiatives. The state provided the N.J. Hospital Association with a grant to help hospitals become Baby-Friendly. Four hospitals have achieved the designation and 22 are in the process, said Melita Jordan, MSN, RN, CMA, APRN, senior executive service director for Community Health and Service Unit at the state’s department of health.

“We’re proud to be able to provide this funding statewide,” Jordan said.

The 10 steps

Joyce McKeever, RN

New Jersey hospitals follow the 10 steps to successful breast-feeding, including having a written breast-feeding policy, training all staff so nurses can assist with breast-feeding challenges, informing all pregnant women about breast-feeding benefits, not feeding medically appropriate babies anything but breast milk, not offering pacifiers, and practicing rooming in with new moms and babies.

“All infant care is done in the room,” O’Neill said.

One of the more important aspects is providing mom and baby skin-to-skin time during the first hour of life.

The baby is placed on mother’s chest, which keeps the baby warm, regulates the body temperature and heart rate, and allows the baby to do the birth crawl and latch onto the breast,” McKeever said. “We bring the services to them.”

McKeever attributes several successes to placing the baby on the chest immediately.

“Moms have said, ‘How can I refuse when this is what baby wants,’” McKeever said.

Nursing support for the mom makes a tremendous difference.

“Nurses play a pivotal role,” O’Neill said. “The more help [moms] have, the more they can achieve their breast-feeding goals.”

Debra Anscombe Wood, RN, is a freelance writer.

By | 2020-04-15T09:21:42-04:00 October 3rd, 2014|Categories: New York/New Jersey Metro, Regional|0 Comments

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