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by Gracamma Joppachen | Jeanne Margarette Grace R. Grande | Rachelle Ann V. Barilla
Published on February 11, 2019

More newborns are now exclusively breastfed at Women’s Hospital in Doha, Qatar, in part due to a new program that focuses on educating new mothers. Once the new education protocols were put in place at the hospital’s high-dependency unit, which cares for women with complicated pregnancies, the department reported a significant increase in the number of new mothers who chose to exclusively breastfeed.

Breastfeeding has lots of benefits both for the mother and the baby. Among those are emotional brain development, and boosting the baby’s immune system. But it also helps the mother, by reducing many diseases like ovarian and breast cancer.

Before the new efforts, fewer than 60 percent of new mothers at Women’s Hospital exclusively breastfed.1 Afterwards, that rose to 92 percent.2

As part of the new initiative, Women’s Hospital provided mandatory training for nurses and midwives to help learn strategies to teach the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding. PowerChart Maternity™ embeds an education section into clinical documentation, helping nurses and midwives track the education offered to mothers. Nurses and midwives help educate new mothers by handing out pamphlets to show breastfeeding benefits. Completion of the training program rose to 100 percent following implementation.2

There is also less of a chance for nurses to forget even simple parts of the education and by having this information in PowerChart Maternity, clinicians find it much easier to follow up with breastfeeding mothers after they return home.

The system means that Women’s Hospital can chart the mother’s experience of breastfeeding and assess them, while nurses can look back in the chart to better assess and educate the mother on what they need.

Prior to implementation, Women’s Hospital leaders knew their rates of exclusively breastfed newborns fell below guidelines recommended by the Ministry of Public Health and the World Health Organization (WHO). Reports from WHO, UNICEF and other organizations in 2017 found that only 29 percent of mothers in Qatar exclusively breastfed infants up through five months old.3

Initially we had a hard time encouraging them: you can easily grab formula at the store, leading to many mothers thinking, ‘Why have all the pain from breastfeeding?’ That’s why we are educating and re-educating mothers.

Moderate evidence from a WHO study in 2013 showed that exclusively breastfed infants have a lower mortality rate in the first few months of life than infants who are partially breastfed. WHO recommends that mothers exclusively breastfed their newborns in the first six months of life.4

Starting the program in the high-dependency unit posed unique challenges, since nurses and midwives are more concerned about the mother’s immediate health issues.

We are taking more critically ill patients who are sedated and in pain. It is quite a challenge to encourage those mothers to exclusively breastfeed their baby.

The push to increase exclusive breastfeeding came from the Ministry of Public Health, as part of the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative from WHO. Women’s Hospital leaders plan to expand the program in their efforts to receive the recognition from WHO.


1 July 2014 - September 2014

2 March 2017 - March 2018

3 UNICEF

4World Health Organization