Collections > Master's Papers > Gillings School of Public Health > Nurses and the First Hour of Birth: Supporting the Role of Nurses in Breastfeeding and Breastfeeding Supportive Practices > Nurses and the First Hour of Birth: Supporting the Role of Nurses in Breastfeeding and Breastfeeding Supportive Practices
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As an undergraduate nursing student, I decided to do a poster presentation on the benefits and impacts of breastfeeding. There had been minimal information in my classes about breastfeeding beyond that it was important, but through my research I came to the presentation passionate about the importance of breastfeeding. I was presenting to a group of local nurses that were walking around the large boardroom. One nurse, in her mid to late 50s, came up to my table and asked me why breastfeeding was important. Excited and ready for this question, I answered with gusto! I discussed immunity, nutrition, eyesight, intelligence, healthy lifelong weight, and particularly the importance of breastfeeding preterm infants for about 5 minutes. When I finished my spiel the nurse was crying. She said, "If I had known all this, I would have breastfed my children. I didn’t know." I was horrified that I had made this woman feel guilty about her feeding decisions of her now adult children, and all I could think to say was, "If it makes you feel any better, I wasn’t breastfed." I learned several lessons from this interaction. I learned that breastfeeding is emotionally complicated and that mothers can have feelings of guilt 20 years later. I learned being a health professional doesn’t mean you know or understand the current research, and finally, I learned that people really do want to make well­‐informed decisions. With these three lessons in mind, I have created a project to bridge the gap between the evidence that affirms the benefits of early breastfeeding support and the lack of implementation of this support in many hospitals in the United States. This project has two main components. The first is a review of the literature on the Baby­‐Friendly Hospital Initiative that affirms the body of evidence showing that early breastfeeding supportive practices are effective in increasing the initiation and duration of breastfeeding. The second is a presentation for labor and delivery nurses employed in hospitals that are not currently developing baby­‐friendly policies.