As the month of August, National Breastfeeding Awareness Month wraps up, Kaiser Permanente believes that one of the most important choices a mother can make to promote the health of her family is to choose, if possible, to exclusively breastfeed her newborn. Kaiser Permanente uses its integrated care delivery model to help mothers understand the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child, and to support the decision to breastfeed.
“Kaiser Permanente care teams have the unique opportunity to put moms and babies at the center of every decision,” said Ed Ellison, MD, executive medical director, Southern California Permanente Medical Group. “They do this supported by a team, including obstetricians, midwives, pediatricians, nurses and lactation consultants who are all connected to each other by state-of-the-art electronic medical records. Our care providers have immediate access to patients’ medical information, which means our members are assured they are receiving coordinated, high-quality care.”
Kaiser Permanente encourages expectant mothers to engage in prenatal care, including the development of a birth plan to clearly indicate their intentions for feeding the baby. Advice about breastfeeding and other decisions related to a mother’s plan are discussed at visits, and a breast examination is performed to check for potential problems. Breastfeeding classes and referral to a lactation consultant, if needed, are all part of Kaiser Permanente’s comprehensive prenatal care.
For the past two years, Kaiser Permanente has upheld a commitment with the Partnership for a Healthier America ((http://xnet.kp.org/newscenter/pressreleases/nat/2013/041613-pha-breastfeeding-toolkit.html)) to support breastfeeding as the first option for mothers. Earlier this year, the organization launched a breastfeeding toolkit. Designed to provide hospitals and health care systems with information and resources to promote exclusive breastfeeding when moms leave the hospital, the toolkit is integral to planning and patient education across the country.
The new toolkit, available at http://kpcmi.org/how-we-work/breastfeeding-support/, provides hospital leaders and teams with information on planning and implementing performance improvement projects to promote breastfeeding as an option and give babies the healthiest start possible. It includes:
- Evidence-based practices
- Processes used by Kaiser Permanente improvement teams to meet the needs of their patients
- Strategies around leadership engagement, measurement, planning and ongoing improvement, patient-centeredness and sustainability
- Additional templates, tools and videos
Kaiser Permanente supports research into the benefits of breastfeeding and in the past year, results of two of the organization’s research studies have been published on the topic.
- A Kaiser Permanente study published in the January 2012 edition of Diabetes Care found that breastfeeding may reduce the risk of diabetes for mothers after they’ve had gestational diabetes mellitus.
- A Kaiser Permanente study published in the May 2013 edition of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal found that babies who breastfed exclusively during the first six months of life and had mothers who’d gotten the flu vaccine had a reduced risk of respiratory illness with fever.