The Short and Long-Term Effects of a Lactation Education Program on Nurses' Attitudes towards Breastfeeding, Mothers' Perceptions of Support, and Breastfeeding Outcomes in The Family Birthplace

Sunday, 17 November 2013: 11:00 AM

Nicola A Genelly, MSN, RNC, IBCLC, CCE, CIME
Maternal Child Health, Saint Joseph Hospital Presence Health, Chicago, IL

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to compare/contrast attitudes and practices that impact mothersí perceptions of support and breastfeeding outcomes.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to evaluate short and long-term effects of lactation education on nursesí attitudes, mothersí perceptions of support, and breastfeeding outcomes.


Background: Despite the maternal-infant health benefits from breastfeeding, rates of initiation, exclusivity and duration remain far below national targets for the US. Compared to the Healthy People 2020’s goal for a breastfeeding initiation rate of 81.9%, The Family Birth Place has a rate of 73% consistent with the 70.2% at other hospitals in Illinois. Nurses’ attitudes and practices are key factors that impact breastfeeding rates.

Objective: To examine the effects of an evidence-based lactation education program on nurses’ attitudes towards breastfeeding, mothers’ perceptions of support, and breastfeeding rates and related outcomes.

Design: Quasi-experimental study, pre and post-test design.

Setting: The Family Birth Place of a teaching hospital that serves a racially and socioeconomically diverse population in a large Midwestern metropolitan city.

Participants: Convenience sample of 47 maternal child health nurses and 100 mothers who met the following inclusion criteria: uncomplicated vaginal or cesarean delivery, full-term healthy infant (37-40 weeks gestation), infant with birth weight > 2800 grams, and intent to breastfeed for more than 3 months.

Methods: A multifaceted flexible breastfeeding education program was developed by a lactation consultant; content validity was supported by nurse educators. Attitudes were measured pre-post introductory in-service and on-line course. Mothers’ perceptions of support were measured pre- nurse education (Group 1) and post-nurse education (Group 2). Breastfeeding outcomes were measured via telephone interview at 8 weeks postpartum.

Main Outcome Measure(s): Nurses’ attitudes towards supporting breastfeeding, mothers’ perceptions of support, and breastfeeding outcomes.

Results: While no differences were found in mothers’ perceptions of lactation support after the initial components of the education program, nurses’ attitudes were more positive. Analysis also showed that women who did not previously breastfeed reported more support. Nurses’ race also predicted nurses’ attitudes.

Conclusions: Breastfeeding education programs can make a difference. Implications for education and practice will be discussed.