An enormous effort by caregivers at Cleveland Clinic Martin Health is empowering mothers in their efforts to breastfeed their babies.

One year after incorporating an EmPower initiative at Cleveland Clinic Tradition Hospital and Cleveland Clinic Martin North Hospital, breastfeeding rates are on the rise.
Lactation Consultant, Harmonie Wampler says the EmPower curriculum provides tools caregivers need to help moms succeed with breastfeeding. “It gives us the chance to counsel all our nurses on conversations with moms that are not always comfortable. We want to provide the exact same information to moms during every conversation.”
Those conversations primarily focus on the benefits of giving only breast milk to babies for at least six months.
Caregivers with direct contact to mothers and babies, have completed five hours of EmPower training since the program began in 2018. Since then, exclusive breastfeeding rates at Tradition Hospital increased from 48% to 62% and at Martin North Hospital rates jumped from 27% to 47%.
The EmPower program is funded in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) because increasing breastfeeding rates is part of the national agenda to improve health in all communities. The curriculum was developed at the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute, which is part of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Ashley Calderone is a Lactation Consultant and co-chairs the EmPower project with Wampler. She believes EmPower training gives caregivers a sense of confidence. “We’re looking to sustain this program and all new caregivers coming in will go through EmPower training, so they have this additional skill to support families.”
Beth Hawn, Corporate Director of Maternal Child Nursing at CCMH, calls EmPower a game changer for Cleveland Clinic Martin Health. “Having 100% of all levels of staff complete the online education, followed by the EmPower training and competency, means that we are now better able to provide support immediately after birth to all our moms who wish to breastfeed.”
Another form of support for mothers is now available at a new Baby Café in Stuart. Part of a national program, Baby Café is a place mothers can gather for social support and bring questions to a Cleveland Clinic Martin Health lactation consultant, free of charge.
Wampler says research shows that once home, a lot of moms don’t breastfeed as long as they intended to, “So, we want to provide that support in the community to help them meet their long term goals.”
Tradition Hospital also hosts a breastfeeding support group, which means Cleveland Clinic Martin Health is delivering community support to mothers in both Martin and St. Lucie counties.
Hawn says it’s important that moms know, once discharged from the hospital, support does not stop there.