Friday, November 6, 2015

Reid Health pursues prestigious ‘Baby-Friendly’ designation by 2016

More than three years of work by Reid team members aims to bring a prestigious designation to the health system in 2016.

Reid is pursuing designation as a “Baby Friendly” facility as defined by the World Health Organization, an honor so far only given to 267 hospitals in the United States, said Janet Feazell, RN, Lactation Consultant & Perinatal Educator with Reid’s Mother-Baby Care Center. “We are in the third of four phases of preparing for the designation,” she said.

She noted that the process, which by meticulous requirements seeks to promote breastfeeding, is extremely detailed and also involves numerous other steps that result in a better birthing experience and healthier babies, she said.

The core of a Baby Friendly initiative are the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding,” a bundle of science-based practices established by the WHO and UNICEF as global criteria to improve breastfeeding rates. The criteria are also endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Breastfeeding is considered one of the most effective preventive measures a mother can take to protect the health of her infant,” said Ieshsa Engle, unit director for the Mother-Baby Care Center at Reid. She said many improvements have been made in her unit related to Baby Friendly, also including making sure mothers have immediate “skin-to-skin” contact with their newborns – believed to help activate a baby’s immune system – extensive training on breastfeeding by every unit staff member, and doing away with providing formula immediately every mother.

“We have worked really hard to help new mothers learn to breastfeed and understand how good it is for their baby,” Feazell said. “Babies no longer are whisked off to the nursery for a bath right after they are born, which was the ‘old-school’ process, because we have learned just how important those first hours with mother are for bonding, breast-feeding and other things.”

“Breast feeding is a preventative measure to protect health and it is the best form of nutrition for infants,” she said, noting that in today’s unit many more moms are going home having learned to breast-feed and fewer are having to use formula. “Our hope is that all moms leave this hospital with the confidence and knowledge they need to feed their babies.”

Changes at Reid already implemented since moving toward the designation include:

  • 20 hours of training about breast-feeding for every employee of the unit
  • Placing babies “skin-to-skin” immediately with their mother after birth, rather than taking the baby away for bathing
  • Having babies room with their mother their entire stay, with the nursery only used for specific reasons
  • Maintaining on staff an internationally board-certified lactation consultant (Feazell)
  • Three-hours of continuing education unit physicians
  • Free childbirth, breastfeeding and sibling classes for expectant parents
  • Outpatient support after families leave the hospital

“We’ve come a long way,” Feazell said, “and it’s very exciting.

The Baby-Friendly Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding:

  1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
  2. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
  3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefi8ts and management of breastfeeding.
  4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
  6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
  7. Practice “rooming in” – allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
  8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
  9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
  10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.


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