With the goal of increasing rates of breast-feeding at six months and identifying any maternal or newborn health issues promptly, nurses in a Florida health system implemented an evidence-based nurse home visitation program for new mothers.
In “Enhancing Neonatal Wellness with Home Visitation,” Carlo Parker, PhD, RN, CNL; Geene Warmuskerken, RN; and Lorna Sinclair, BA, RN, describe how the program implemented nurse home visits to evaluate the health of mothers and infants while also educating mothers about breast-feeding. The article appears in the February/March 2015 issue of Nursing for Women’s Health, the clinical practice journal of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses.
The Mother Baby Home Visitation Project paired mothers and their newborns with RNs for home visits at three to seven days postpartum to encourage exclusive breastfeeding and provide an overall health assessment, including monitoring infants for jaundice. Research shows that new mothers’ concerns or problems with breast-feeding peak during this time period, which results in many mothers stopping breast-feeding within the first two months of the postpartum period, according to a news release.
In the U.S., about 76% of women initiate breastfeeding after birth while at the hospital, but the rate drops to 38% at six months, according to the release. The evaluation of the Florida program found that breastfeeding was started at a rate of 80%, and at six months 56% of mothers were still breastfeeding.
Additionally, jaundice was better recognized, leading to quicker readmission and shorter average hospital stays for treatment. All participants reported satisfaction following the first visit and reported the program had helped them with continuing to breastfeed.
“It appears that the need for breastfeeding support extends past the time that most mothers have access to that support, suggesting that home or community-based interventions after discharge may offer the opportunity to continue and reinforce education and support on breastfeeding and neonatal care,” the authors wrote, according to the release.
Although research overwhelmingly shows that breastfeeding provides the best nutrition for newborns, 24% of mothers never breastfeed their babies. Current guidelines from nursing and physician organizations recommend exclusive breast-feeding during the first six months of life, followed by continued breastfeeding during the first year or more as new foods are introduced.
Previous research shows that support services can have a positive effect on breastfeeding rates. “Early nurse visits to the home setting help build the patient relationship to address important health issues for mothers and their newborns,” said AWHONN’s CEO, Lynn Erdman, MN, RN, FAAN. “Supporting mothers in meeting their breast-feeding goals is central to the role of the nurse.”
Adequate nutrition reduces the risk of the most common threats to newborn health during the first few months of life, including jaundice, weight loss and dehydration. For infants, breast-feeding is associated with reductions in obesity, sudden infant death syndrome, diabetes, asthma, respiratory tract infections and other conditions.
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