Date of Graduation

Fall 12-15-2017

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


School of Nursing and Health Professions

First Advisor

Dr. Elena Capella


Management of the opioid-dependent mother-infant dyad is complex. Evidence suggests breastfeeding may decrease the severity of NAS symptoms, delay its onset, and decrease the need for pharmacologic treatment (Macmullen et al., 2014). Therefore, education of nursing staff on the benefits of breastfeeding for opioid-dependent dyads will enable them to safely recommend breastfeeding for long-term health (Pritham, 2013). The Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) project, “Improving Nurse Proficiency: Breastfeeding and the Opioid-Dependent Mother and Infant Diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)” aims to globally increase the number of infants diagnosed with NAS discharged on breast milk by 10% by June 30, 2018. Following a thorough microsystem assessment, the need for breastfeeding education on the opioid-dependent mother-infant dyad was identified to improve outcomes for the NAS infant— specifically, to improve breastfeeding rates of the NAS infant. Nursing staff survey results revealed strong nurse competency and confidence on breastfeeding and the opioid-dependent mother and NAS infant, but also revealed a lack of knowledge related to contraindications for breastfeeding. In order to improve breastfeeding rates among infants diagnosed with NAS, a mother-infant unit in Virginia utilized Kurt Lewin’s Change Theory to guide microsystem change. In order to address the gaps in nurse proficiency and delivery of care with the breastfeeding NAS dyad, nurses were empowered with the necessary education tools to improve competency in breastfeeding the withdrawing infant. Additional support resources included a unit policy on breastfeeding the NAS infant and patient education handouts. The results of the project are yet to be determined, however, the goal is to increase nurse competency, thereby, improving the rate of NAS infants discharged on breast milk by 10%.

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