Creation of a Regional Human Milk Assembly: A Model to Influence Practice and Policy Change in the NICU

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The 2011 Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding highlights a need for optimizing lactation-based education for all health professionals; however, few schools of nursing and medicine offer lactation-based curriculum. In an effort to address these gaps in education and care, the director of the lactation program at a large urban children's hospital developed and instituted the annual regional Human Milk Assembly (HMA), a half-day collaborative meeting of the hospital's regional and referral hospitals' neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nursing staff, to address lactation-based educational and training needs of all participating institutions.


The purpose of this study was to determine whether and how participating HMA hospitals implemented the best practices surrounding human milk and breastfeeding shared by the host institution during a 10-year span of the HMA.


A prospective descriptive study was designed using an electronic web-based survey ( to elicit participant data. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics whereas qualitative data were analyzed for themes via content analysis.


Thirty-one of the 50 hospitals surveyed responded to the electronic survey for a total of 34 individual participants. Seventeen of the 22 (77%) of best practices were implemented at rates of over 50%.

Implications for Practice:

By enabling a culture of transparency and sharing, hospital staff can be encouraged to implement best practices across a network of regional care centers.

Implications for Research:

This annual regional HMA could be a model for other areas and research should be conducted to evaluate such programs nationwide.

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