Provide organized in-service nutrition education for the health care team about normal nutrition throughout the first years of life.
The health care team may include physicians (pediatricians or family practitioners with special interest in the care of the newborn), midwives, nurse-practitioners, nurses (hospital based or in the physician's office), and sometimes a dietitian or a social worker, or both. These team members need experience in providing for the nutritional needs of lactating mothers (see Chapter 3) and in the feeding of newborn infants. They also need to be familiar with sources of assistance in the community, their eligibility requirements, and strategies for helping parents gain access to these sources. It is essential that all members of the team convey consistent, accurate messages to the mother about infant growth, nutrition, and feeding techniques.
Nurses are expected to be able to provide support and technical assistance in the art of breastfeeding and to help find solutions to common problems that might otherwise obstruct successful breastfeeding. The nurse, nurse-practitioner, midwife, and physician are the caregivers who are primarily responsible for teaching the mother about the care of her infant.
Ancillary personnel in the community extend the reach and effectiveness of the facility-based health care team. For example, if the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is available locally, a nutrition teaching aide can help low-income families stretch their food dollars and make more healthful food choices during lactation; a visiting nurse can provide breastfeeding support and assist the mother in the safe handling of her expressed milk or of formula; and a community health worker may help link the mother with needed resources. WIC staff can offer helpful information on food choices during lactation and on breastfeeding management for those women who are enrolled in the program.
Health care providers who are responsible for the nutritional care of normal infants and of breastfeeding mothers are expected to have a firm knowledge base concerning the following topics and the education and experience needed to develop the skills covered in this section.