A Quality Improvement Project to Increase Breastfeeding Rates in the NICU

Nature and scope of the project

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative and HealthyPeople 2030 goals strive to increase exclusive breastfeeding rates for the first six months of life. These initiatives are not specifically designed for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Hospitals with breastfeeding policies specific to the NICU environment provide nurses with guidance on practices that promote breastfeeding. Currently, at Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), there is not a breastfeeding policy in the NICU offering guidance to nurses on breastfeeding promotion.

Synthesis and analysis of supporting literature

Literature suggests that NICU nurse actions and support promote increased breastfeeding rates. In addition to nurse actions and support, NICU infants are more successful at breastfeeding when put to the mother’s breast more often during hospitalization.

Project implementation

To increase breastfeeding in the NICU, we will implement an evidence-based quality improvement project. This project aims to increase the rates of breastfeeding and human milk use in the NICU. An in-service will be provided to NICU nurses on the importance of facilitating infants and supporting families regarding breastfeeding in the NICU.

Evaluation criteria

Evaluation of the effectiveness of the in-service will be assessed by administering pre- / post-questionnaires to NICU nurses who attend the in-service. Additional evaluation will consist of the medical records to assess for nursing assisted breastfeeding attempts.


This project has the potential to make a significant health impact on NICU infants. The in-service will educate nurses about the benefits of breastfeeding and how NICU nurses can encourage the facilitation of breastfeeding and support families. Nurses will have the knowledge to educate parents on breastfeeding benefits, breast milk benefits, and strategies for successful breastfeeding both in the hospital and post discharge.


The success of the evidence-based practice intervention will impact future recommendations. A breastfeeding in-service and continuing education should be required of NICU nurses during mandatory skills day plans. This will keep nurses up to date on current recommendations as well as continue to emphasize the importance of breastfeeding.



A Quality Improvement Project to Increase Breastfeeding Rates in the NICU