Breastfeeding peer counselors as direct lactation care providers in the neonatal intensive care unit

J Hum Lact. 2013 Aug;29(3):313-22. doi: 10.1177/0890334413482184. Epub 2013 Apr 5.


In 2005, the Level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Rush University Medical Center initiated a demonstration project employing breastfeeding peer counselors, former parents of NICU infants, as direct lactation care providers who worked collaboratively with the NICU nurses. This article describes the conceptualization, implementation, and evaluation of this program and provides templates for other NICUs that wish to incorporate breastfeeding peer counselors with the goal of providing quality, evidence-based lactation care.

Keywords: breast pumping; breastfeeding; breastfeeding peer counselors; human milk; lactation care; mother-to-mother support; neonatal intensive care unit.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding*
  • Chicago
  • Counseling / methods*
  • Counseling / organization & administration
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal / organization & administration*
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal / methods*
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal / organization & administration
  • Lactation*
  • Peer Group*
  • Program Development
  • Program Evaluation