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22.11.2017 | Sonderheft 1/2017 Open Access

Maternal and Child Health Journal 1/2017

A Multilevel Approach to Breastfeeding Promotion: Using Healthy Start to Deliver Individual Support and Drive Collective Impact

Maternal and Child Health Journal > Sonderheft 1/2017
Chelsey Leruth, Jacqueline Goodman, Brian Bragg, Dara Gray


Purpose Breastfeeding has been linked to a host of positive health effects for women and children. However, disparities in breastfeeding initiation and duration prevent many low-income and African-American women from realizing these benefits. Existing breastfeeding promotion efforts often do not reach women who need support the most. In response, the Westside Healthy Start program (WHS), located in Chicago, Illinois, developed an ongoing multilevel approach to breastfeeding promotion. Description Key elements of our WHS breastfeeding model include individual education and counseling from pregnancy to 6 months postpartum and partnership with a local safety-net hospital to implement the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative and provide lactation support to delivering patients. Assessment In the year our model was implemented, 44.6% (49/110) of prenatal WHS participants reported that they planned to breastfeed, and 67.0% (183/273) of delivered participants initiated. Among participants reaching 6 months postpartum, 10.5% (9/86) were breastfeeding. WHS also had 2667 encounters with women delivering at our partner hospital during breastfeeding rounds, with 65.1% of contacts initiating. Community data was not available to assess the efficacy of our model at the local level. However, WHS participants fared better than all delivering patients at our partner hospital, where 65.0% initiated in 2015. Conclusion Healthy Start programs are a promising vehicle to improve breastfeeding initiation at the individual and community level. Additional evaluation is necessary to understand barriers to duration and services needed for this population.

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