New online education focuses on benefits of breastfeeding

This program offers an electronic format for those who cannot attend the traditional classes offered through Carle’s All About Baby Prenatal Education Program or for those who would like to reinforce what they have already learned in class.

Topics in the module include:

  • Benefits of breastfeeding
  • Skin-to-skin contact
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Types of breast milk
  • Dietary requirements for mother
  • Proper positioning and latch-on
  • Storage of breast milk
  • Baby’s daily feeding record

Melissa Reigart, an OB unit educator who is always looking for new ways to educate patients, established this idea at Carle. While working on transferring all patient education materials into an electronic format, with the help of a company called Customized Communications Inc., Reigart learned about a breastfeeding e-learning module from the same company.

She then presented this idea to Carle Center for Philanthropy’s Women’s Legacy Circle, which agreed to fund the program for two years. 

Lisa Siegwald, OB nurse manager, believes the breastfeeding e-learning module fits Carle’s changing demographic.

“The needs of our patients are changing and our population is young. The more we can provide them in an electronic format, the more likely they are to use it,” she said. “The nice thing about this is they can access it from anywhere—they can even get it from their iPad—because we wanted to make it as versatile as possible for the patients.”

The breastfeeding e-learning education program is available on Carle.org and is free for both patients and members of the community. It also serves as an additional way OB is working toward becoming a Baby Friendly hospital.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) created the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative to encourage hospitals toward more programs supporting mothers who are breastfeeding.

“Baby Friendly is an initiative that really helps us make sure that moms have what they need for feeding their baby,” Siegwald said. “We strongly endorse breastfeeding, it’s a big part of Baby Friendly and it’s also supported by Healthy People 2020.”

Healthy People 2020, a program through the Department of Health and Human Services, strives to reach goals that relate to public health, including:

  • Attain high-quality, longer lives free of preventable disease, disability, injury and premature death
  • Achieve health equity, eliminate disparities and improve the health of all groups
  • Create social and physical environments that promote good health for all
  • Promote quality of life, healthy development and healthy behaviors across all life stages.

Carle’s OB unit is taking many steps to receive the Baby Friendly designation. All OB staff members are required to take 37 online education modules to increase their knowledge to better serve patients.
The unit is keeping the mothers and babies together as often as possible, which Siegwald says “increases how well the baby feeds, decreases postpartum depression, helps the mom sleep better and the baby cry less.”

OB also encourages “skin-to-skin” contact, which is a technique where the baby is held right to the skin of the mother’s chest. This allows the baby to feed better, regulates the baby’s temperature, and helps the mom establish a better breast milk supply.

These added programs aim to help mothers have a more positive breastfeeding and postnatal experience. Carle hopes to be a Baby Friendly hospital by the end of 2016.