Lactation education

Adapt lactation education to culture

image: Diane L. Spatz, PhD, RN-BC, FAAN, Helen M. Shearer Professor of Nutrition at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
to see Continued

Credit: Eric Sucar, Univ. of Penn. Communication

PHILADELPHIA (April 5, 2019) – Breastfeeding is an accepted practice for millions of women around the world and strongly endorsed by the World Health Organization. To provide appropriate counseling on breastmilk and breastfeeding, it is important to understand the cultural beliefs and customs associated with the practice.

Understanding Orthodox Jewish customs regarding breastfeeding is especially important for health care providers, as the Orthodox population in the United States is growing. Orthodox women marry younger and have twice as many children as non-Orthodox Jews. Some of these families are at higher risk of conceiving children with genetic disorders, which may require special care and continued hospitalization after the mother is discharged.

In a new article published in The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, nurse researchers examine Orthodox Jewish practices related to providing breastmilk and breastfeeding a sick newborn. The article guides nurses in providing culturally competent lactation education and evidence-based counseling to meet the individual needs of each Orthodox Jewish infant and family. It is essential that the family have conversations with their rabbi ideally before delivery or at the time of birth to determine colostrum and milk storage needs, as well as expressing milk during Shabbat or religious holidays.

“Personalised, culturally and religiously appropriate care, education and counseling can ensure that Orthodox mothers are able to achieve their personal breastfeeding goals, even if their baby needs to be hospitalized at birth. says Diane L. Spatz, PhD, RN-BC, FAAN, Helen M. Shearer Term Professor of Nutrition at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing), one of the paper’s co-authors.


The article, Breastfeeding Tips for Orthodox Jewish Families When Newborns Require Special Care and Ongoing Hospitalization, is available online. It was co-authored by Laura M. Candelaria, PhD, MS, RN, FNP, of Molloy College Hagan School of Nursing; and Toby Bressler PhD, RN, OCN, of Mount Sinai Health System.

About University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing is one of the leading nursing schools in the world. For the fourth year in a row, it is ranked the No. 1 nursing school in the world by QS University and is consistently high on the annual U.S. News & World Report list of top graduate schools. Penn Nursing is currently ranked #1 in National Institutes of Health funding, among other nursing schools, for the second year in a row. Penn Nursing prepares nurse scientists and nurse leaders to meet the health needs of a global society through innovation in research, education and practice. Follow Penn Nursing on: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

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