To improve rates of exclusive breastfeeding during the postpartum hospital stay by implementing a new role of dedicated neonatal assessment nurse (NAN), whose primary function was neonatal care beginning immediately after birth.
Quality improvement project with plan–do–study–act using evidence-based guidelines for implementing the NAN role.
Labor and delivery department of a tertiary care teaching hospital in the southeastern United States; breastfeeding exclusivity rates at this hospital were in the range of 50%.
Registered nurses employed in the labor–delivery–recovery unit, mother–baby unit, and NICU.
The NAN role was implemented to promote immediate skin-to-skin care (SSC) for stable newborns after vaginal and cesarean birth. Each NAN’s competency was evaluated at the beginning and end of the education session through a pretest/posttest, and a skills validation was used to affirm their readiness for the new role. The outcome measure was breastfeeding exclusivity at the time of discharge from the hospital. SSC initiation and duration immediately after birth were the process measures.
Twenty-five bedside registered nurses participated in this quality improvement project. There was a statistically significant difference between the pretest and posttest scores (p < .001), indicating a knowledge increase. All nurses met the skills validation criteria. The rate of SSC immediately after vaginal birth increased from 49% to 82% and after cesarean birth from 33% to 63%. Breastfeeding exclusivity rate at the time of discharge from the hospital increased from 50% to 86%.
The NAN role provided transitional care at the bedside without the separation of mothers and newborns. This was an innovative role, without the need to hire new staff, that provided evidence-based care, resulting in improved SSC and exclusivity of breastfeeding before discharge.