A new designation affirms our commitment to new mothers

Earlier this year, Parkview Whitley Hospital received news that the facility had earned a Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) designation. Josie Smith, RN, IBCLC, LCCE, lactation consultant, Parkview Whitley Hospital, explains the importance of this recognition and what it means for the support new mothers can expect in Whitley County, particularly regarding their decision to breastfeed.

Defining “Baby Friendly”

For Parkview Whitley Hospital, a community hospital with a five labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum (LDRP) bed birthing center, achieving a prestigious BFHI designation is paramount to the highest honor for the standard of quality of care and maternity services. BFHI, launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), was designed to remove commercial influence from birthing facilities and optimize mother-baby bonding and support through practices that promote, protect and support breastfeeding and that are outlined in the 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.

The recommendations shared by the BFHI initiative set an international standard of quality of care designed for all women. The goal is to empower women to be informed decision makers as well as outline ethical practices and reinforce collaboration on the continuum of health.

At a local level

BFHI recognizes the importance of collaboration and continuity of care within the community as well. As women seek health services for themselves and their babies, coordinated messages about breastfeeding help women receive the education and support needed to make informed decisions about nourishing their infant.

Danielle Henderson, a peer counselor from Whitley County WIC, makes weekly visits to the Family Birthing Center to assist WIC patients. She counsels them on infant feeding and reports any needs they may have during their hospital stay. The Parkview Whitley Family Birthing Center also supports WIC by partnering with them for the yearly World Breastfeeding Week event, The Big Latch On, in August. We coordinate support and education so that women get the same infant feeding messages from both resources, which helps them to be successful and to, therefore, increase breastfeeding rates.

Encouraging new moms

In keeping with the model of promoting, protecting and supporting breastfeeding, I inform new mothers that breastfeeding is encouraged and promoted by all of the health organizations who have an interest in optimal health for children such as the World Health Assembly, the World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, to name a few.

For any mother looking for guidance, we can provide the appropriate information on the many benefits of breastfeeding for both mom and baby, such as decreased infant mortality, enhanced immunity and decreased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). For mom, breastfeeding can mean enhanced psychological bonding with her infant, decreased risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer and earlier return to pre-pregnancy weight.

Any woman should be commended for considering breastfeeding and given answers to any concerns she may have. Research shows that when a woman is given positive information early in pregnancy, she is more likely to stick with her decision to breastfeed. All of her support team, including her significant other, her own mother (or other maternal figure) and her healthcare provider are integral in the positive support that leads to greater success with breastfeeding.

Every mother deserves assurance that she will be supported throughout her breastfeeding journey, from the moment her precious baby is born. But all women, no matter how they choose to nourish their little one, can feel confident that the staff at Parkview Whitley will respect their choices and be available to offer any resources or information she may need.


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