241329 Advocating for the Inclusion of Marginalized Adolescents Mothers in the Broader Breastfeeding Discussion

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 1:30 PM

Tekla V. Evans, MPH, CHES, PMP , Program Evaluation Research Division, Messages of Empowerment Productions, Atlanta, GA
Quinn Gentry, MBA, PhD , Urban Health Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Kim M. Nolte, MPH, CHES , Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, Atlanta, GA
National statistics indicate that breastfeeding rates are lower among adolescent mothers compared to older moms. Possible reasons for this trend include lack of knowledge, negative attitudes, and limited skills and resources to enhance the breastfeeding experience for adolescent mothers and infants.

This study highlights how doulas who act as health educators and health advocates eliminate barriers to breastfeeding among adolescents in urban settings.

Since 2002, a community-based doula program in Georgia has served approximately 300 African American and Latina pregnant and parenting adolescents ages 13-20.

Enrollees receive up to nine pre-natal and 12 postpartum home visits, where breastfeeding is one of 15 core education and skills-building topics that prepare mothers for birth and parenting.

A trend analysis of the doula program's outcome data revealed that by 2008, more than 70% of all adolescent mothers in the program initiated and maintained breastfeeding, which is more than three times the national average. However an analysis of the 2010 cohort revealed that, by postpartum weeks six and 12, that percentage dropped to 35% and 23%, respectively.

Doula programs are highly effective in empowering and educating adolescent mothers to take actions that enhance maternal and child health outcomes, including breastfeeding. However, decisions to pursue education and employment may have a negative effect on decisions to continue breastfeeding. Social structural education and advocacy are needed on a broader scale to address other determinants of breastfeeding among adolescent mothers.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Advocacy for health and health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
1. Demonstrate how urban-based doula programs enhance maternal and child health outcomes among low-income urban adolescent mothers. 2. Identify and suggest ways to address social and structural determinants of breastfeeding.

Keywords: Maternal and Child Health, Breast Feeding

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I serve as the program evaluator for the doula program, as well as serve as a health education curriculum developer and implementer.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.