Promoting the culture of breastfeeding in a small rural Minnesota hospital

Rebecca Poolman


The benefits of breastfeeding have been well defined for both mother and baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be exclusively breastfeed for at least the first 6 months of life (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2005). The Healthy People 2010 5 breastfeeding objectives include 75% of infants initiating breastfeeding in the early postpartum, 50% of infants being breastfed at 6 months of age, and 25% of infants being breastfed at one year of age (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000). To increase the support of breastfeeding in hospitals the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative was developed. The initiative requires hospitals to meet ten steps in order to achieve the Baby Friendly status.

Breastfeeding was most prevalent in women who were college educated, older and higher disposable incomes according to Ryan (1997). The health of people living in rural areas is poorer than urban areas with less access to health care (Humphrey, 1999). Nurses in remote areas face a challenge in providing updated care with limited resources available. Rural hospitals have found it difficult to attain a Baby Friendly status due to financial constraints

The review of literature demonstrated a lack of breastfeeding knowledge among most nurses. It was also noted that breastfeeding education given to nurses and physicians increased breastfeeding rates. The purpose of this project was to increase nurse's knowledge of breastfeeding to former develop the culture of breastfeeding in this community.

This independent project involved the development of a breastfeeding education module and policy for hospital nurses which was based on well-accepted guidelines. A copy of the educational module was left at the nurse' station for yearly review and also for initial education of future nursing staff.