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3601 C Street, Suite 722
Anchorage AK 99503
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Alaska Breastfeeding Initiative (ABI)

Partnering with hospitals to adopt supportive maternity care practices and policies that improve a mother’s ability to start and continuing breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is an investment in health for infants and mothers. Infants who are breastfed are less likely to have ear infections, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Breastfeeding moms have less risk of ovarian cancer.[1]

The Alaska Breastfeeding Initiative, funded through the Physical Activity and Nutrition program, is partnering with hospitals throughout the state to improve breastfeeding outcomes for babies and their mothers. Mothers have better chances of starting and continuing breastfeeding when hospitals use supportive maternity care practices and policies that follow the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding framework.

These Ten Steps include practices that support new mothers, such as helping mothers start breastfeeding within the first hour of a baby’s life and having babies stay in the same room as their mothers to make breastfeeding easier. Adopting this framework is one way to support mothers choosing to breastfeed to meet American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations of feeding their babies breastmilk exclusively for the first six months of life and continuing to breastfeed through the baby’s first 12 months.[2]​

The initiative aims to increase the number of hospitals throughout Alaska that align maternity care policies and practices with the Ten Steps and increase the number of maternity care staff within those hospitals trained in the Ten Steps. Lead registered nurses (RNs) from hospitals participating in the initiative work with state experts to align the hospital’s policies and practices with the Ten Steps. Participating hospital are also eligible for a two-day Ten Steps training for their maternity care staff; community practitioners; and local Women, Infants and Children (WIC) staff. Initiative staff also partner with the Alaska Breastfeeding Coalition​ as advisors and consultants.

Three hospitals joined the initiative in 2019, and Ten Step to Successful Breastfeeding training took place in Bethel at Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC), Fairbanks at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, and Ketchikan at PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center. About 125 nurses and lactation support staff received training and more than 2,000 continuing education hours. In 2020, two more hospitals are joining the initiative. Ten Step training is planned at Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage and Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna.


Dawn Groth RN, BSN, MSOEE

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Alaska Partnerships