Breastfeeding in Douglas County, Nebraska

by Arianna Crum

Background on the field placement organization

The mission statement of the Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) is to promote, protect, and prioritize the health of the entire community (DCHD, 2019). The DCHD operates different programs to promote health equality such as food safety, clinic services, infectious diseases, and Infant and Child Health. The breastfeeding coalition operates under Douglas County Health Department. DCHD house many public health programs, such as the breastfeeding coalition. The breastfeeding coalition mission statement is to increase the proportion of infants who receive breastmilk in Douglas/Sarpy County and is composed of two teams: the breastfeeding coalition and the core team. Both groups have the same goal of increasing breastfeeding initiatives but focus on different goals. I have learned that the coalition is currently focused more on brainstorming and finding solutions. The coalition is made up of many members that are able to bring forth their expertise on projects.

Comments on project activities

I was tasked to create a literature review surrounding workplace supports for breastfeeding mothers. The literature will be used to provide support to the breastfeeding coalition to design interventions surrounding workplace supports for mothers. The literature review was difficult to complete due to needing to commit more time to completing community-based surveys. It was interesting to learn how there is a lack of breastfeeding support when mothers are returning to work. I made the assumption that the majority of workplaces supported breastfeeding. Yet, the literature shows that there is an increased need for more interventions surrounding working breastfeeding mothers. Conducting literature reviews for the breastfeeding coalition has helped eliminate the assumptions that I had due to my own privilege in certain areas in my life.

Yet, creating the survey, was the most challenging part of this experience. During this time, I had to learn how to work with multiple people on one project. Once the survey was approved by the core team, it had to be reviewed by the whole team before the survey was finalized. Although I have experience designing surveys, this one was challenging. Many people believed that we should use one survey, while others disagreed. As a student, I felt that it was best to go with the survey that the majority of the coalition thought was best, even if I did not agree. In attempts to putting together the survey, I learned that I need to develop my leadership skills. Many times, I found myself not wanting to speak up on issues that were concerning to me, because I felt that it was not my place to voice my concerns as a student. I was told that it was important for me to view myself as a peer as the team is relying on my expertise. I am hoping to improve my leadership skills for my own development as a public health professional.

Preparation for field placement

My coursework in biostatics and epidemiology has prepared me for this placement. Biostatistics taught me the importance of how to collect and analyze data. Epidemiology has taught me how to design a research question and analyze results of a study. Epidemiology has helped me understand the importance of conducting an effective intervention. Those courses were the most useful in conducting this project especially knowing how to create a survey. It was imperative that I utilized those skills that were taught to me in course to be able to design an effective survey and create my proposal. All of the courses in public health have helped tremendously in designing and implementing this project with the Douglas County Health Department Breastfeeding Coalition. The breastfeeding coalition taught me the importance of conducting an environmental scan before attempting to implement an intervention within a population.

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