Program sponsored by WHO and UNICEF focuses on the benefits of breastfeeding.
Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Florida, United States, is the only health-care institution in the area to earn the Baby-Friendly® designation from Baby-Friendly USA, Inc., a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The accreditation certifies that Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center adheres to a set of evidence-based practices shown to support breastfeeding mothers and their babies.
“The Baby-Friendly designation is such an important milestone for our hospital and our community for several reasons,” said obstetrician/gynecologist Megan Bagwell. “It has provided the necessary initiative to properly train our Birth Care Center team to safely and effectively promote and assist with breastfeeding in mothers who desire to do so. We are also now able to more accurately educate patients about the benefits of breastfeeding during their prenatal visits.”
Bagwell pointed out that even though breastfeeding provides numerous health benefits to mother and baby, it can present its own set of challenges, in addition to those of bringing home a new baby. “This [Baby-Friendly] designation has elevated our ability to help patients with this important transition,” she said.
Toward Successful Breastfeeding
Based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, this award recognizes birth facilities that offer breastfeeding mothers the information, confidence, and skills needed to initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies.
“Our team of doctors, nurses, and staff have worked hard to earn this prestigious international designation, and we are so proud to officially be recognized by Baby-Friendly USA,” said Becky Vernon, Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center director of women and children’s services. “Breastfeeding is one of the most precious gifts a mother and baby can give to each other.”
Breastfeeding offers numerous benefits, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Breast milk is easier for the baby to digest than formula, and it contains the right combination of nutrients. Also, it reduces the incidence of babies developing an allergic reaction, constipation, diarrhea, ear infections, upper respiratory infection, and colds. Breast milk is low cost, convenient, and readily available in the correct quantity and temperature. Furthermore, breastfeeding facilitates physical and emotional bonding between mother and baby, and it helps the mother’s uterus return to the pre-pregnant state much faster.
Providing Options to New Mothers
Most mothers choose to breastfeed, but 60 percent of mothers stop breastfeeding sooner than initially planned, and only one in four infants is exclusively breastfed by the time they are six months old.
“Hospital practices in the first hours and days after birth make a big impact on how long babies are breastfed,” Vernon said.
At Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center, board-certified lactation consultants provide expert breastfeeding and lactation care. With specialized skills, they work with mothers to prevent and solve breastfeeding problems, as well as educate others about the far-reaching and long-lasting value of breastfeeding as a global public health imperative.
Vernon stressed that Baby-Friendly® hospitals do not compel mothers to breastfeed if it is not their intention.
“Rather, we are providing families the information and support needed to achieve their infant feeding goals,” she said.
A Multiyear Effort
Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center received the designation following a multiyear effort of training staff, changing practices, educating parents, and revising policies to ensure the Daytona Beach hospital provides maternity care that delivers optimal infant feeding outcomes and mother/baby bonding.
“Fostering and nurturing a positive breastfeeding environment through comprehensive education, support and assistance is arguably the most important function we perform in our care of the newborn baby and her or his family,” said neonatologist Alan De Klerk. “The myriad benefits and empowerment of mothers and their babies are crucial to providing the best possible start on their life journey together. We are proud to be the only Baby Friendly hospital in Volusia County, reflecting our unrelenting commitment to this ideal.”
There are more than 20,000 designated Baby-Friendly® hospitals and birth centers worldwide, including 524 in the U.S.
Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center is a member of Adventist Health System, a faith-based health-care organization with 46 hospital campuses in nine states, serving more than 5 million patients annually. With a mission to extend the healing ministry of Christ, Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center includes the 327-bed facility in Daytona Beach, as well as Florida Hospital Oceanside with 80 beds in nearby Ormond Beach.