The Nurse Family Partnership recently achieved a great accomplishment, with 75.3 percent of their mothers initiating breast feeding. This is in line with the US Surgeon General’s goal of having 75 percent of all mothers initiate breast feeding.
The Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) is a nationally recognized early childhood nurse home visiting program for first time, low income mothers and their child until two years of age. In 2011, NFP has cited as the only home visit program to have produced important improvements in the lives of at-risk children and parents by the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy.
Lutheran Children and Family Service is the largest clinical site sub-contractor and serves 200 eligible families. Through regularly scheduled home visits, eight LCFS public health nurses offer high-risk adolescent and adult women a rich curriculum and resource support that leads to successful parenting. The program goals are to improve pregnancy outcomes and child development, and also to improve families’ self-sufficiency. Consistent program findings are improved prenatal health, fewer childhood injuries, fewer subsequent pregnancies, increased intervals between births, increased maternal employment, improved school readiness, and less involvement with the juvenile and adult justice systems. The average age of Philadelphia NFP clients is between 17 – 18 years of age with 60% enrolled under 20 years of age.
Mary Beth Haas, the Nurse Family Partnership Program Manager for LCFS says that breast feeding is finally getting much needed national recognition. “It’s being talked about more as a health issue now, not just a feeding choice,” she said.
“We’ve recognized for a long time that there are benefits for the baby, but now research has found that there are significant benefits for the mother as well,” Mary Beth said. Studies show breastfeeding decreases the mother’s risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer. Breastfed babies receive over 101 benefits with a higher IQ, less allergies, a decrease in asthma, and protection against digestive diseases such as Chrohn’s Disease to name a few.
Blair Lamb, a Public Health Nurse for the Nurse Family Partnership, encourages her clients to try breast feeding by educating and preparing them, well before the baby is born. “A lot of the mothers don’t know about the benefits of breast feeding, and formula is so readily available,” Blair said. “Sometimes they’re scared that it’s going to hurt, or are embarrassed to breast feed in public.” Blair addresses her clients’ concerns, and guides them on what to expect. “The first couple of days are challenging, I help my client to understand and accept those challenges,” she said. “It’s really rewarding to help someone do something that is good for themselves and their baby.”
Are you interested in learning more about the benefits of breast feeding? Check out these resources.
The importance of breastfeeding, how to breast feed, and common challenges: http://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/
101 Reasons to breast feed your child: