Initiative is Program of World Health Organization and UNICEF
Woman’s Hospital has achieved Baby-Friendly designation from The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, a global program of the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The initiative recognizes and encourages hospitals that offer optimal levels of care for infant feeding. Baby-Friendly hospitals follow evidenced-based maternity care and breastfeeding practices. Woman’s is the largest birthing facility in Louisiana to have achieved Baby-Friendly. Woman’s also has the distinction of being the 500th Baby-Friendly facility.
We are so proud to have achieved Baby-Friendly designation,” said Cheri Johnson, Vice President of Perinatal Services. “This achievement is the result of more than 8,000 hours of initial staff education, policy changes and patient education as well as a rigorous on-site survey, and it demonstrates Woman’s commitment to continually improving the health of women and infants.
In May 2015, Woman’s took the first step toward achieving Baby-Friendly designation by joining the EMPower (Enhancing Maternity Practices) Breastfeeding Initiative, a hospital-based quality improvement initiative designed to support hospitals in pursuit of Baby-Friendly. Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and implemented in partnership with the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute (CGBI) and Population Health Improvement Partners (PHIP), EMPower supports hospitals from 24 states selected in a competitive application process. To date, Woman’s is the largest EMPower facility to obtain Baby-Friendly.
Woman’s has made significant changes to encourage breastfeeding. Research shows that breast milk provides health advantages beginning at birth and continuing over a lifetime. These include a stronger immune system and fewer respiratory illnesses, ear infections and gastrointestinal issues. New mothers also benefit – weight loss occurs more rapidly, and breastfeeding may reduce the incidence of certain types of cancer. Nursing documentation, patient care standards and physician orders were also reviewed, revised and implemented to support Baby-Friendly practices.
Although breastfeeding is the physiological norm, mothers often face intense external pressure from families and friends to replace all or some breast milk with formula. Free formula, bottles and other products promoting formula use are not accepted from formula manufacturing companies; the hospital purchases infant formula at fair market value, and no longer distributes free samples and coupons to patients. Another policy change example is Woman’s “Magic Hour” initiative, which was implemented in 2015 and encourages a new mom to hold her baby immediately after delivery. In 2017, Woman’s focused on Magic Hour being continuous and uninterrupted bonding time. During Magic Hour, non-essential procedures such as weighing the baby are delayed. Skin-to-skin contact during Magic Hour is important because it facilitates the initiation of breastfeeding.
Patient education has changed as well. All materials, from booklets to brochures to advertisements to web pages, have been revised to support Baby-Friendly best practices, including not giving pacifiers, or food or drink other than breast milk to infants, unless medically indicated. Mothers are educated on the benefits of breastfeeding and the importance of avoiding supplements unless medically indicated, artificial bottle nipples and pacifiers while breastfeeding is being established.
Woman’s offers many additional breastfeeding resources. Board-certified lactation consultants and certified lactation counselors visit new mothers throughout their hospital stays. Mothers who choose to formula-feed are taught safe practices for formula preparation and bottle feeding. Nurses also help women through prenatal classes, post-discharge consultations and a 24/7 “Warmline” to answer breastfeeding questions. Additionally, Woman’s has designated lactation consultants and counselors for mothers of NICU patients. These consultants advise mothers on how to provide breast milk, whether through pumping or breastfeeding, to help their babies grow stronger and healthier. Woman’s new smartphone app features a breastfeeding tracker to help mothers successfully breastfeed. Woman’s has recently launched BreastTime, virtual breastfeeding appointments via iPhone™, iPad™ or Android™ phone.
For more information about the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, visit www.babyfriendlyusa.org.