Being a part of an amazing birth story is the mission of the Mercy Health Birth Center at Saint Mary’s. One way to help ensure all birth stories are amazing is by preparing to become designated as a Baby-Friendly Hospital, with a scheduled site visit on March 15 and 16, 2018. The site visit is the final step in the extensive designation process.
Baby-Friendly is an internationally recognized designation earned by hospitals that demonstrate evidenced-base, best care practices for both mothers and babies. Growing in prevalence over the past decade, in 2007, only 3% of babies born in the US were born in Baby-Friendly designated hospitals. In 2017, more than 22% of US babies were born in Baby-Friendly hospitals.
“Patients look to deliver in Baby-Friendly hospitals because they know that our priority is to provide the best care for infant feeding and mother-baby bonding,” said Mary Kooyer, BSN, RN, IBCLC, Lactation Services, who has been instrumental in guiding Mercy Health Saint Mary’s along the path to Baby-Friendly designation.
While breastfeeding encouragement and support are crucial for Baby-Friendly, the designation is not just about breastfeeding.
“Many practices that we put into place support all mothers, regardless of her feeding choice, to provide the best care she can for her baby,” said Kooyer. “Many of the steps improve baby’s immediate health and increase mother-baby bonding. We also ensure that all mothers know how to feed their babies in the safest way possible.”
Baby-Friendly is also important for colleagues at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s.
“Our goal is that any mother who is breastfeeding or pumping her breast milk, regardless of where she works in our organization, will be supported and be able to continue providing breast milk for her child,” said Kooyer.
All Mercy Health Saint Mary’s colleagues should familiarize themselves with the Institutional policy 10-226 – Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.
Scientific research shows the improved health outcomes and a decreased risk for certain diseases for both the mother and the baby when the mother breastfeeds.
“To support breastfeeding at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, our aim is to ensure that mothers are given important education to make an informed decision about her feeding choice,” said Kooyer. “We ensure that all mothers are treated with dignity and respect.”
Baby-Friendly designation is also a draw for recruitment and retention of staff, as it is a testament to the fact that hospitals that are designated Baby-Friendly truly care about evidenced-base, best care practices.
See below for the ten steps to successful breastfeeding that Baby-Friendly organizations uphold, as outlined by World Health Organization/UNICEF:
- Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
- Train all health care staff in the skills necessary to implement this policy.
- Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
- Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
- Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation even if they are separated from their infants.
- Give infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
- Practice rooming in—allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
- Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
- Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
- Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or birth center.