Guidelines support breastfeeding during parent-newborn separation

Data show the importance of human milk and breastfeeding for the optimal health of infants, children, and lactating parents. But when parents and newborns are separated due to a hospitalization, current research shows that most sick babies are discharged home on infant formula. While many professional organizations have position statements about breastfeeding, few outline the specific lactation needs during parent–newborn separation.

Person in a black dress standing on stairs for a portrait.
Diane Spatz is a professor of perinatal nursing and the Helen M. Shearer Professor of Nutrition at the School of Nursing, and a nurse scientist for the lactation program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. (Image: Eric Sucar)

Now, a team of scientists led by a researcher from the School of Nursing has established a new clinical practice guideline using an evidence-based approach to support lactation in those circumstances. The guideline, “The Use of Human Milk During Parent–Newborn Separation,” has been published by the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing.

“Human milk should be recognized as a necessary intervention for all vulnerable newborns who may be separated from their parent(s) after birth,” says Diane Spatz, professor of perinatal nursing and Helen M. Shearer Term Professor of Nutrition at Penn Nursing and Nurse Scientist in the Center for Nursing Research and Evidence Practice at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Spatz led the evidence-based clinical practice guideline science team.

The goals of the proposed recommendations are to ensure all parents have the ability to make informed feeding decisions, to enable parents to effectively initiate and sustain milk supply for their newborn through discharge, and to help parents reach their personal breastfeeding goals beyond the immediate hospitalization period. The guideline includes implementation of Spatz’s 10-step system as the national model for providing human milk to vulnerable newborns.

Read more at Penn Nursing News.