Medical Center of McKinney is one of 20 hospitals in Texas selected for the five-year statewide project, “Texas Ten Step Star Achiever Breastfeeding Learning Collaborative,” aimed at increasing breastfeeding rates.

The program launched by the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality (NICHQ) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) kicked off this five-year quality improvement project designed to improve facility environments to better support a mother’s choice to breastfeed.

“Medical Center of McKinney has participated in the HCA’s (MCM’s parent company with more than 163 hospitals across the nation) Exclusive Breastfeeding initiative for more than a year, and are participating in the Texas Ten Step Star Achiever Breastfeeding Learning Collaborative to share our experiences and learn from other facilities,” said Martha Langham, RN, Director of Women’s and Children’s Services for Medical Center of McKinney.

“Our goal is to spread the word to all expecting moms that breast milk is the best way to feed babies, and we are here to help them be successful.”

Breastfeeding has multiple health benefits for infants and mothers. For infants, it decreases the incidence and severity of many infectious diseases, reduces mortality and optimally supports neurodevelopment. It also decreases infants’ risk of becoming obese later in childhood. For mothers, breastfeeding diminishes the risk of breast and ovarian cancers, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease.

Mike Montgomery, program director for the Texas WIC said, “What’s driving this project is the need to improve maternity and infant care in birthing facilities. We want to make sure we can sustain change by building quality improvement capacity at these facilities. It will start with these first 20 facilities and grow from there.”

What distinguishes this new project is collaboration. What these hospitals learn will be shared among other participants, helping more mothers across the state become more successful in exclusively breastfeeding their babies. The project aligns with the Texas Ten Step Program, a statewide effort to improve infant health and increase rates of exclusive breastfeeding.

According to NICHQ, since Texas has the second largest population of children in the entire country, it has the opportunity to be a leader in the improving breastfeeding rates nationwide.