JCMC seeks to increase breastfeeding rates through OB/GYN collaboration


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -- The Johnson City Medical Center Family Birth Center recently received a grant to help put two lactation specialists in local OB/GYN practices so they can talk to expectant moms about breast feeding. The goal is to provide early education to women about the benefits of breast feeding and to increase the rate of breastfeeding mothers.

 “We’re looking more and more at preventative health care, and we’ve learned over the years that breast feeding is huge part of that,” said Chasta Hite, RNC, IBCLC and MSHA’s lactation services manager. “To increase the breastfeeding rate, we need to capture expectant mothers before they come into the hospital to have their baby and have already chosen their feeding method.

 “If we contact them in the doctors’ offices, hopefully we can influence their decision and prepare them for what to expect and what can help them have a better experience when they get to JCMC to have their baby.”

 Since exclusive breast milk feeding is a Perinatal Care Core Measure of The Joint Commission and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, health care systems must seek out innovative ways to encourage this positive health choice for their patients.

 The JCMC Family Birth Center was the recipient of the Breastfeeding Support Funding opportunity through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health. It will allow a lactation consultant to be present at the Johnson City OB/GYN and ETSU OB/GYN practices twice a week for a total of six hours.

 The trial program began in March and will continue through mid-September. If the results are good, it could be expanded within MSHA.

 Having a lactation consultant available in obstetric offices prenatally will increase the opportunity for clients to ask questions, learn more about infant feeding options and talk with a professional regarding the best choice for feeding their infant.

 Allergies, asthma problems, obesity, heart disease, juvenile diabetes – breastfeeding can help lower the chance of all these. It’s just a matter of letting more expectant mothers know all the benefits.

 “We have so many moms come in who’ve decided to bottle feed and we find out they may have misconceptions about breastfeeding,” Hite said. “This program puts information in the patients’ hands so they can make an informed decision.”

For more on The Joint Commission’s efforts toward perinatal care, visit www.jointcommission.org/perinatal_care/.

 For more information about MSHA Lactation Services, call 423-431-5432 or email Lactation@msha.com.

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