Research underway to support breastfeeding

News / General
By Matthew Manor

Getting a newborn to breastfeed can certainly be an exhausting and anxious time for everyone involved. Now, a research project is hoping to help out new mothers at KGH. The goal is to create a few sets of guidelines for use across our hospital, and beyond.

“We know that over 90 per cent of new mothers who come through the door want to provide breast milk to their infants,” says Clinical Educator Lynn Newton, who is leading the project. “But then weeks later, that number drops significantly and that tells us we need to offer them more support and education while they are here.”

There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to efficient breastfeeding. They include the baby's latch and positioning, knowing how often to breastfeed and being able to identify the baby's many cues.

Newton says three teams of nurses are now digging existing research. Over the next few months they will be reviewing it all, including existing guidelines such as ones created by the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario.

From there, their findings will be synthesized into three different sets of best practice guidelines at KGH. The first will be for interprofessional staff working in obstetrics. The second will be more specialized and will be for situations that arise in the neonatal intensive care unit. The third set of guidelines will be more generic in nature and will be used by people across the rest of the hospital.

“We're aiming to make all of these guidelines meaningful and easy to use so nurses will be able to apply them to any situation,” says Newton. “For patients the result will be up-to-date and consistent information.”

Newton says all three teams are hoping to complete their work within the next six months. From there, their new guidelines will be shared with the local public health unit to make sure everyone is on the same page. They will also be made available to any other hospital or organization that would like them.

“Meaningful and practical advice in this area can be hard to come by,” she says, “so we want to make sure our patients head home with what they need to know about breastfeeding so they can happily continue on with it if they choose.”