By Carolyn Comeau
Countless studies underscore breastfeeding’s powerful benefits, including reducing a baby’s risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), respiratory tract and ear infections, a wide range of allergies and even diabetes. That’s why Mission Hospital McDowell’s new Baby-Friendly® hospital accreditation from Baby-Friendly USA, the organization that recognizes facilities that commit to enacting a spectrum of evidence-based protocols for patients who are supportive of breastfeeding, is so important to the health of mothers and babies in our region.
Erika Moody, BSN, RN, and international board-certified lactation consultant, is both a labor and delivery nurse at the hospital, as well as its lactation consultant. “Becoming a Baby-Friendly hospital in the region involved meeting rigorous standards and implementing a carefully conceived plan, but it’s well worth it for our mothers and babies,” she said.
Moody highlighted the most important benefits to the community that Mission Hospital McDowell’s Baby-Friendly designation brings:
1. Mother-baby Bonding Begins Immediately after Birth
Baby-Friendly hospitals commit to support nursing for newborns within one hour of their birth, because studies show that this helps mothers experience much more long-term breastfeeding success. This all-important first feeding helps stabilize baby’s blood sugar and jumpstart their digestive system, and it supports the mother’s milk production.
2. Breastfeeding Is Supported, not Forced
All new mothers are educated about the many benefits of breastfeeding at Mission Hospital McDowell, and encouraged to make the decision that’s best for them. Being Baby-Friendly ensures that moms who choose to breastfeed have the support they need for success.
3. Mothers and Babies Receive Greater Care Consistency
Baby-Friendly hospitals formulate hospital-wide written breastfeeding policies that are evidence based as opposed to anecdotal. All team members, from nurses to pediatricians to OBGYNs, receive the same training, which means new moms get the same lactation information too, no matter who their caregiver is.
4. A Rooming-in Policy Gets Families Off to a Stronger Start
The hospital’s state-of-the art birthing suites allow families to remain together during labor, delivery and bonding. Rather than observing a clock-based feeding schedule, babies feed when they want and need to, parents learn to recognize their baby’s feeding cues, and mothers experience more robust milk production.
5. Connection among Nursing Mothers and Lactation Support Are Critical
It’s a fallacy that nursing should come naturally to mothers and babies. In truth, getting the hang of it requires support. Mission Hospital McDowell offers prenatal breastfeeding classes, provides a resource list to patients of community organizations, area lactation consultants and support groups that support nursing moms, and extends ongoing assistance after patients are discharged.
Moody shared that COVID-19 hasn’t dampened the hospital’s intention or practice of supporting new mothers. “I can meet for a consultation virtually after a patient is discharged, and we follow all safety precautions within the hospital,” she said. “Our Baby-Friendly accreditation enhances our patients’ experiences and benefits our community.”
Erika Moody, BSN, RN, IBCLC, is a Labor and Delivery nurse and lactation consultant at Mission Hospital McDowell.