Breastfeeding has many well-established health benefits for infants and mothers. There is greater risk reduction in health outcomes with exclusive breastfeeding (EBF). Our urban academic facility has had long-standing low EBF rates, serving a population with breastfeeding disparities. We sought to improve EBF rates through a Learning Collaborative model by participating in the Best Fed Beginnings project.
Formal improvement science methods were used, including the development of a key driver diagram and plan–do–study–act cycles. Improvement activities followed the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.
We demonstrated significant improvement in the median adherence to 2 process measures, rooming in and skin-to-skin after delivery. Subsequently, the proportion of infants exclusively breastfed at hospital discharge in our facility increased from 37% to 59%. We demonstrated an increase in sustained breastfeeding in a subset of patients at a postpartum follow-up visit. These improvements led to Baby-Friendly designation at our facility.
This quality improvement initiative resulted in a higher number of infants exclusively breastfed in our patient population at “high risk not to breastfeed.” Other hospitals can use these described methods and techniques to improve their EBF rates.