By Elizabeth Sutton, PhD – Woman’s Hospital Director of Scientific Research
There are so many choices new moms are asked to make. One of those important questions you will be asked when you deliver your baby at Woman’s Hospital is “What is your feeding plan?”
Many factors impact whether or not moms are successful with their feeding goals. At Woman’s, we offer many resources to support these goals. Prior to delivery, expecting moms can take breastfeeding classes* and receive informational materials with helpful tips. They can also download the Woman’s Pregnancy App for free which includes tools and information to help successfully breastfeed.
Once they deliver, new moms are offered one-on-one sessions with certified lactation counselors while in the hospital. They can also call the free Breastfeeding Warmline after being discharged for breastfeeding advice and troubleshooting from an experienced nurse. Additionally, there is a breastfeeding support group* that meets twice a month. (*Breastfeeding classes, consults, and support groups are currently being held virtually.)
Breastfeeding Success Research
As the director of scientific research at Woman’s Hospital, I have been studying ways we can better support all women who hope to breastfeed. Using information from patients, our research team is able to make prediction models — sort of like a fortune-telling crystal ball — to find patterns of who is “successful” in breastfeeding. This is defined as a patient who answered that she wanted to breastfeed, and was able to do so by the time she went home from the hospital. We have also identified those who wanted to breastfeed but were not able to by the time they left the hospital.
As Louisiana ranks 49th of 50 states for breastfeeding rates at 6 and 12 months of baby’s age, we started this study with the goal of identifying our patients “at risk” of not accomplishing their breastfeeding goals while staying at the hospital after delivery. This allows our patient care team to design processes and programs specifically for these women to determine if, through customized support, we can improve success rates. These study results are also currently under review at a scientific journal to be published and made available to any hospital or medical provider hoping to better understand the challenges mothers in Louisiana face to breastfeed.
This study is a continuation of decades of breastfeeding success already made by mothers at Woman’s. In the last five years, the breastfeeding rate of mothers that delivered at Woman’s has increased by more than 5%! As a mom currently breastfeeding a 6-month old myself, it’s incredible to be part of a project that helps women like me succeed in their feeding goals. Being a new mom has its challenges, but these results will help more women turn their feeding goals into a reality!