Goal is to help clinicians, including nurses, who assist with breastfeeding at the point of care
By Keri Durocher
February 6, 2023
Editor’s note: As a part of her research to obtain her PhD, Keri Durocher is studying breastfeeding support for individuals who delivered their infants in a Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative-certified organization. Canadian Nurse interviewed her to learn more about the initiative and her research thus far.
Can you describe your PhD research topic?
My research focuses on individual experiences of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), which is a global program created by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF to enhance breastfeeding support. The purpose of this research is to understand some of the complexities of people’s breastfeeding experiences, which may provide foundational information for clinicians and policy-makers to implement critical patient support.
What do you hope the impact of your research is?
I hope this research can broaden our understanding of some of the additional and individualized supports that new parents may need in addition to the evidence-based components of the BFHI. This information can be useful for organizations that are already BFHI-certified, as well as those working toward certification through policy implementation. Hopefully, this information will help clinicians, including nurses, who assist with breastfeeding at the point of care. As a new mother myself, I know that the desire to breastfeed can be complex to describe or explain. Exploring these experiences through individuals who have been a part of a BFHI-certified organization may provide foundational knowledge to enhance the support of future practice.
What is a baby-friendly hospital?
A baby-friendly hospital is an organization that has been officially certified with this status. When a hospital decides to undertake this initiative, it follows a set of policies and clinical guidelines that are meant to promote breastfeeding. An extensive amount of work is involved in this process, including many functions of collaborative practice pertaining to certification and official designation.
What role do nurses play in baby-friendly hospitals?
Nurses play many roles in supporting breastfeeding within these organizations. For example, in the areas of labour and delivery, nurses are responsible for initiating skin-to-skin contact between the baby and the birthing parent as soon as possible, as well as assisting with breastfeeding. In postpartum practice, nurses continue with this process through monitoring and assisting with feeding to ensure that a feeding plan has been developed prior to discharge.
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What got you interested in this topic?
Prior to beginning an academic nursing career, I worked with many individuals who were breastfeeding in postpartum, community pediatric, and acute pediatric settings. Through these roles, I became interested in people’s breastfeeding experiences, as this was a large component of the care provided for new parents. When I began to investigate some of the existing research on BFHI implementation, I realized there are conflicting findings on how it relates to breastfeeding exclusivity and longevity. Most of this research has been quantitative and implementation-based; my reseach, by contrast, takes a grass-roots approach to discover some of the factors that may not yet have been discovered.
Keri Durocher is a registered nurse and a PhD candidate (nursing) at Western University. Her research interests focus on women’s health, specifically digital mental health outcomes and maternal care.