Front (left to right): Nicole Casalenuovo, R.N. and Christy Whiteside, R.L.S., I.B.C.L.C. Back (left to right): Debbie Suda, R.N., Rachel Elul, R.N., Melita Dionisio-Temple, R.N., Barbara Tcheng, M.D., Katie Haugh, R.N., Diana Whaley, R.N., and Sarah Lopez, R.N.

RRUCLA Delivers Baby-Friendly Practices for Breastfeeding

Ronald Reagan-UCLA Medical Center (RRUCLA) has been selected to participate in the Birth and Beyond California (BBC) Quality Improvement Project, which provides technical assistance, resource development, on-site education and training to hospitals to improve policies and practices aimed to support women with breastfeeding while in the hospital and to continue to exclusively breastfeed their infants for the first six months.

“It was exciting to spearhead the BBC application with support from administration and to continue to work with a devoted multidisciplinary team that will bring RRUCLA closer to achieving our Baby-Friendly Hospital designation,” says Isabell Purdy, Ph.D., N.P., director of NICU High-Risk Infant Follow-Up Clinic. The “Baby-Friendly” designation is a globally recognized symbol of world-class maternity care and assures all expectant mothers that we have adopted recognized best-practice standards in support of breastfeeding. The BBC works with nursing unit directors from maternity, Debra Suda, R.N., and NICU, Bonnie Sham, R.N., PsyD., to assist in the education and training of staff members — from Labor and Delivery, NICU, Newborn Nursery, Postpartum and Pediatrics — with breastfeeding information that can be consistently delivered to mothers during their hospital stay and beyond.

The RRUCLA Breastfeeding Task Force is led by Christy Whiteside, R.L.S., board-certified lactation consultant, and provides a weekly professional forum to evaluate current practices and implement evidence-based best-practices and procedures to aid breastfeeding support for all staff members involved in infant care. Eventually, RRUCLA must demonstrate — during an on-site assessment — that we have correctly integrated the “10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding” into our practices for healthy newborns. “We hope to deliver consistent information to all our patients so that they can make informed decisions about how to feed and care for their babies, and to be able to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding on their own after they leave the hospital,” explains Nicole Casalenuovo, R.N., assistant unit director for Labor and Delivery.

A team of 22 nurses from Westwood and Santa Monica has participated in 16 hours of breastfeeding training and education. Six of these nurses will complete 16 additional hours of training and will then be able to train other staff about breastfeeding techniques and benefits to new parents. “It is up to our patients to decide what they are comfortable with in terms of how to feed their baby,” states Christy, “but it is our job to help guide and educate them on the benefits of breastfeeding if that is what they choose.”

“Our ultimate goal,” states Isabell, “is to have new mothers and fathers leave here feeling competent and confident that they can take care of their baby and that they received consistent information about breastfeeding from all their caregivers.”