Program Manager, Clinical Northwell Health East Rockaway, New York
Use evidence-based guidelines to identify, establish and maintain all elements of the community-based breastfeeding support and promotion program including decreasing racial/ethnic disparities
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that all women breastfeed exclusively for six months. However, many women struggle to meet this goal: although >80% of U.S infants were breastfed at birth in 2016, exclusivity dropped to 65% one week postpartum and to 25% by six months. According to the Surgeon General, this decline may reflect racial/ethnic disparities and a lack of maternal support and education. Interventions are needed to better support mothers and provide evidence-based breastfeeding education during the prenatal, postpartum, and early infancy periods. The Breastfeeding Resiliency, Engagement, and Empowerment (BFREE) Team has supported this goal by establishing breastfeeding-friendly systems of care concordant with the NYSDOH Breastfeeding Friendly Practice and Child Care designation and worksite recognition. BFREE has also helped establish Baby Cafes, which provide free, drop-in breastfeeding support by trained staff. All sites are connected with government-funded maternal and infant health initiatives and given culturally-sensitive breastfeeding education and promotion resources. BFREE’s registered dietitians, trained lactation specialists and pediatricians deliver comprehensive all-staff trainings, provide relevant resources, help develop local policies and build community lactation support to increase rates of breastfeeding initiation, exclusivity, and duration within selected communities identified as having the largest needs. To date, BFREE has partnered with 19 obstetric/pediatric practices, 9 child cares, 15 worksites and 6 Baby Cafés to establish a breastfeeding-friendly care continuum extending from pregnancy through postpartum and infancy, working to reduce racial, ethnic and community disparities. Challenges BFREE has faced include funding, space, and site personnel.