There is a growing trend nationally among hospitals to obtain the Baby Friendly designation that signifies the provider has adopted standards for best practices among moms and newborns.
Carle Hospital has joined that list.
Baby Friendly USA has accredited five central Illinois hospitals as Baby Friendly, with Carle joining the group last month. It was the culmination of a four-year process, said Lisa Siegwald, RNC, Carle’s obstetrics nursing supervisor.
After examining its own practices and comparing them to standards required by Baby Friendly USA, Carle undertook the necessary steps to make changes.
“What we wanted to be able to demonstrate through our Baby Friendly designation is truly a commitment to giving the most up-to-date, evidence-based, best care to moms and babies,” Siegwald said. “Baby Friendly is a designation that puts a tremendous focus on feeding newborns and a lot of that is about breast feeding.
“So what we want our moms to know as they get ready to come to Care is that we have created an environment that by research evidence has been shown to give them the best start for themselves and their new babies.”
There are three primary components:
—Immediate contact: “All of our babies get placed skin-to-skin directly with their mom immediately after birth. That has been shown to have tremendous benefits for both mom and baby as far as feeding readiness, breast milk supply, comfort for both of them, temperature and blood sugar regulation in the newborn.”
—Bonding: “Another thing we put a large amount of focus on is keeping our moms and babies together as much as possible. We do what is called ‘rooming in’ care now. Our infants stay with their moms almost 24 hours a day. The only time they would leave their moms is if they would have to go to the nursery for some type of procedure or if they become unstable. (We occasionally will have moms who request that they go so they can have a small period of respite time.) The benefits there are bonding for mom and baby, comfort for mom and baby. It’s really interesting. The research actually shows that mom will rest better and have less stress if she keeps the baby in the room with her.”
—Breastfeeding: “We tremendously increased the amount of breast feeding education all of our staff gets. Our nurses all go through two days of training with a lactation consultant. They shadow them and then go through several hours of training in a classroom setting. So they’re prepared to help moms feed and then even our nurses assistants on the floor have to go through some breast feeding training.”
While moms are encouraged to breast feed, Siegwald stressed that Carle places importance on supporting moms no matter their choice.
“So much of what people hear about our Baby Friendly designation is about breast feeding,” she said. “And we do value breastfeeding tremendously but we want moms in the community to know that whatever their choice for feeding their baby is, we’re here to support them. A portion of Baby Friendly that we had to make sure we could show for this designation, is that we provide great education and support for our moms who choose not to breastfeed. We don’t want patients to come in here and feel they’re expected to or have to breast feed. We are totally here to support what their choice is.”
The World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund created the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative to encourage hospitals to create and maintain more programs to support breastfeeding mothers. There are 512 facilities nationwide that have earned the Baby Friendly distinction.