Second-Time Moms Appreciate Hospital Changes to Support Breastfeeding

Posted February 23, 2016 by Rachel Kremen

New Mother With Baby and DoctorWhen Nicole Acosta delivered her first child in May 2013, she knew she wanted to breastfeed.

“My mom had nursed me and all my siblings, and she always conveyed how beneficial breastfeeding is, so I had a ton of support from my family,” says Acosta.

But she didn’t get as much support as she’d expected at her hospital, Good Samaritan Medical Center in West Islip, NY. Despite an uncomplicated delivery, no one suggested immediate skin-to-skin contact—a practice known to increase the likelihood of breastfeeding success.

Acosta asked for a lactation consultant once she was on the maternity floor, but didn’t get to see one until six hours after she delivered her son. That was the first time Acosta remembers someone encouraging breastfeeding.

Fortunately, she had some success and made sure to tell the night nurse to bring her baby from the nursery once he woke to be fed—even it was in the middle of the night. But that didn’t happen.

“The next day I realized I was never woken up and I found on the feeding log that the nurses had given him formula,” says Acosta. “I was definitely disappointed!”

By the time she had her second son in June 2015, things had certainly changed at the hospital. Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center joined the NICHQ-led New York State Breastfeeding Quality Improvement in Hospitals (NYS BQIH) Collaborative, which aims to increase exclusive breastfeeding rates by implementing evidence-based maternity care practices, such as skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth. The hospital was able to raise its skin-to-skin contact rate following vaginal births to 92 percent. That’s up from 50 percent just before the breastfeeding initiative started in October 2014.

The initiative also minimized the role of the nursery, by having each newborn stay in the same room with the mother whenever possible. It’s a practice Acosta says made breastfeeding much easier for her second baby. Acosta could see for herself when the baby was awake and ready to eat.

Jennifer Belechto, another mother-of-two, loved the rooming-in facilities she had when her second child was born.

“You never lose your baby,” she said. There’s even room for additional family members, too. “My husband was able to spend one night with me and my mom spent a night with me.”

Rita Ferretti, BS, RN, C-NIC, IBCLC, a lactation consultant at Good Samaritan, says it’s not uncommon for even second time moms to feel uncomfortable being solely responsible for the care of their baby after the delivery. It’s especially true, she says, of mother’s who are recovering from a Cesarean delivery.

“We validate the mother’s feelings and inform her that she is not on her own,” says Ferretti. “We let the mother know that the nurses are close by and checking on her and her baby frequently. We remind mom about how to call for help with her call bell for when she needs assistance.”

In addition to the changes made to immediately after delivery at the hospital, Acosta and Belechto also appreciate the help they got at the hospital’s weekly support group, The Breastfeeding Café. The drop-in group offers a chance for mothers to share their breastfeeding experiences, with a lactation consultant on-hand to answer any tricky questions.

Belechto said on-going support from a lactation consultant was essential to her breastfeeding success during both pregnancies. “One person can completely change your journey,” she says.

Learn more about NICHQ’s breastfeeding work and how you can partner with NICHQ to help your hospital to improve maternity care practices.


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