Background: Our objective was to improve breastfeeding initiation rates at an urban medical center.
Methods: A breastfeeding educational program for health care providers was developed and implemented in 1995. The outcome variable of interest was the change in breastfeeding initiation rate during 2 periods, 1993-1994 and 1996 to 1999, stratified by weight (> 2,000, 1,500 to 2,000, and < 1,500 g).
Results: The breastfeeding initiation rate in 1996 to 1999 for all mothers of newborns admitted to the hospital was 47.1% (4,107/8,724), compared with the 1993-1994 rate of 18.9% (816/4,315). During the second period, the breastfeeding rate among mothers of infants < 1,500 g was 60.8% (468/770), compared with 19.2% (56/293) during the earlier study period. Stratified by weight, the greatest improvement in rates of breastfeeding initiation and at discharge was seen with mothers of preterm infants.
Conclusion: A breastfeeding educational program that interfaced with medical staff and mothers at an urban medical university was associated with increased rates of breastfeeding initiation.