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July 2, 2021

New online education series improves access to breastfeeding and maternity care best practices

Breastfeeding plays a crucial role in the overall health of babies and mothers and demonstrates hospitals’ and birthing centers’ commitment to improving infant and maternal health.

However, one of the biggest obstacles hospitals face in working to improve maternity care and lactation support practices is staff education.  Research shows that the level of lactation education provided in medical school and nursing schools falls short of that necessary to equip their graduates to confidently support breastfeeding parents. 

Hospitals often are aware of this gap and seek to address it by providing staff education, but expense and logistical challenges present significant barriers. 

The United Methodist Health Ministry Fund, through our High 5 for Mom & Baby program, is committed to promoting breastfeeding best practices and to supporting hospitals’ efforts to ensure their staff are prepared to support parents’ breastfeeding needs and goals.

Like many hospitals, the Health Fund sees online education as an ideal solution to hospital staff achieving adequate breastfeeding training, which is why the Health Fund developed a series of online breastfeeding education modules that are available for free on Kansas TRAIN. 

The online courses can be completed at the pace and time best suiting each participant and can be done either in the facility or at home with no special space or equipment required.

The online courses were developed following requests from hospitals and hearing from doctors and nurses about the impact of these education gaps.  The good news is that High 5 for Mom & Baby was prepared to act due to a partnership with the University of Kansas and Hays Med, which offered their in-person education classes as a foundation for the online training.

Using those existing classes as a base, High 5 for Mom & Baby program coordinator Gwen Whittit created a series of virtual educational modules developed for the Kansas Train platform.

These modules follow the WHO outline for educating staff on the 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. Each of the fifteen modules provides one hour or more of CNEs and all are available at no cost, accessible any time online through the Kansas TRAIN platform.

The modules are available to any hospital staff or community member.  Though geared especially toward those having basic knowledge of breastfeeding, the classes are suitable for any health professional desiring to increase their knowledge of lactation and how to support successful breastfeeding.

A list of the classes and links to Kansas TRAIN are available at https://www.high5kansas.org/resources-for-hospitals.  The first step is to create a Kansas TRAIN account at https://www.train.org/ks/welcome, which also provides a short video explaining the process. Once logged in, go to “search courses” and enter “Kansas Breastfeeding Education” to view all fifteen modules including complete titles.

We hope this new training series will help care providers more confidently address the questions and needs of breastfeeding parents throughout Kansas to help infants get the best possible start in life.  

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