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Columbia University

Evaluating a breastfeeding program on campus to increase lactating room usage among lactating people.

Published evaluation plan on Columbia University.

Challenge

The Breastfeeding Support Program is an initiative managed by the Office of Work|Life at Columbia University. The program supports lactating people by providing private lactation rooms equipped with hospital-grade breast pumps, which allow individuals to express, store, and collect breast milk in privacy while on campus. Program staff needed a way to evaluate the program's effectiveness and propose recommendations to increase awareness, knowledge, and use of the lactation rooms among lactating staff and students. 

 

Approach 

I worked with a team of public health evaluators to complete a process and outcomes evaluation. Using the CDC Program Evaluation Framework, my team and I created a theory of change to improve health outcomes. Moreover, I interviewed staff at the program and reviewed past testimonials and feedback from lactating people. Historical lactation room data usage informed three themes for the Breastfeeding Support Program: 1) education, 2) privacy, and 3) access to breast pump accessories. Some key insights I found in the research is that the program increased breastfeeding among the sample of lactating people who traditionally didn't breastfeed, which reduced the prevalence of gastrointestinal disorders among infants, and increased well-baby visits. I also found improvements in other health outcomes associated with breastfeeding, such as lactating individuals' reported levels of decreased shame and stigma of breastfeeding in the workplace.

 
Results 

My team and I successfully delivered and presented our evaluation to program stakeholders. As a result, I developed recommendations to create digital tools such as virtual lactation room sign-up and a schedule on Sign-up Genius so that lactating people can know when a lactation room is available for use. In addition, I proposed sanitization accessories to keep the room hygienic. The solutions have been in use during the COVID-19 pandemic.