A unique partnership in Marietta is helping moms and babies who are traditionally underserved in the healthcare arena after birth. Breastfeed Atlanta’s new Northwest location teamed up with a group of nurse practitioners that cares for at-risk newborns after hospital discharge. The alliance is believed to be the only one of its kind in Georgia and is aimed at saving babies’ lives.
“Infant death rates are abysmal here,” said Christie Coursey, director of clinical lactation services at Breastfeed Atlanta. “The people that are most disadvantaged to health problems related to not breastfeeding have the least access to help. We have the opportunity to break the door open for families in northwest Georgia.”
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death in infants up to one year of age. In 2017, a breastfeeding study published in “Pediatrics” said SIDS is reduced by nearly 50 percent when a baby is breastfed for just two months.
Breastfeeding is also proven to lower a mother’s risk for breast cancer and Type 2 diabetes.
While breastfeeding often comes naturally, moms with low milk supply, painful breasts or babies with latching issues often need professional help.
But Medicaid rules limit access to lactation consultants outside of hospitals. Essentially, moms on Medicaid can see a lactation consultant if a nurse practitioner (NP) or a physician is present. In most cases, primary care providers and lactation consultants do not share locations.
“When the newborns we serve have problems with breastfeeding, the mothers typically can’t get access to help and give up,” said Tricia Hunt, the nurse practitioner who owns Marietta Newborn Care, the practice that partnered with Breastfeed Atlanta Northwest.
Her group opened in the 1990s to screen newborns on Medicaid for things like jaundice and other health issues that threaten babies after birth. While she always believed that breastfeeding helps these babies, it was hard for moms with Medicaid to get access to the lactation support they needed.
Since she joined forces with Coursey, her at-risk newborn patients have unprecedented access to lactation services.
“This partnership allows us to provide mothers instant, on-site access, allowing breastfeeding success,” Hunt said. “Now, moms can help their babies build up lifesaving immunities.”
The two groups began serving patients together March 5 at 50 Plaza Way in Marietta across the street from WellStar Kennestone Hospital.
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