St. Mary’s Hospital for Women & Children Receives Prestigious International Award
We are pleased to announce that St. Mary’s Hospital for Women & Children is designated as a Baby-Friendly Hospital by Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. This designation showcases the level of care, support and personal attention St. Mary’s Hospital for Women & Children is dedicated to providing all families who choose us for their care during such a special time.
Through this designation, St. Mary’s Hospital for Women & Children, which is part of Ascension, the nation’s largest Catholic and non-profit health system, has been recognized by the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative as providing the optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative was launched in 1991 as a global program by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The achievement of the Baby-Friendly designation is not an easy task. The U.S. Guidelines and Evaluation Criteria are quite challenging as they are designed to set the standards for the best possible breastfeeding support for mother and infant in the maternity setting, insuring high quality of care for both mother and baby.
It is well documented that breastfeeding offers unmatched benefits for baby, mom and the entire family. St. Mary’s supports our mothers through our highly-skilled lactation consultants who offer inpatient/outpatient consultations and regular breastfeeding classes and support groups and through techniques such as skin-to-skin contact and rooming-in. Skin-to-skin involves skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby and dad and baby as soon after birth as possible.
Rooming-in is the practice of keeping babies with their mothers as many hours of the day/night as possible. It is a mother’s decision to choose her feeding preference, and we will support her decision regardless. Every mother is provided the same opportunities for skin to skin and rooming-in. Those who choose not to breastfeed or who are unable are provided education about safe preparations of powdered formula and baby led feedings. St. Mary’s Hospital for Women & Children staff and physicians alike have undergone hours of additional education on how to best support breastfeeding mothers and provide education for the safe preparation of formula. All of these practices are for the benefit of mother/baby and family bonding which has health benefits for the entire family.
As Michelle Musgrave, Administrator of St. Mary’s Hospital for Women & Children says, “We are so pleased to be able to share the news of our Baby-Friendly designation. Our staff has and will continue to put forth a tremendous amount of energy into this initiative. This designation further demonstrates to our community that St. Mary’s Hospital for Women & Children provides the most supportive and caring environment for mothers, babies and the entire family.”
St. Mary’s Baby-Friendly journey has been made possible by the commitment of our associates and physicians and the support of the Healthy Community Partnerships Community Transformation Grant received in September 2012.
There are more than 20,000 designated Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers worldwide. Currently there are 220 active Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers in the United States. The “Baby-Friendly” designation is given after a rigorous on-site survey is completed. The award is maintained by continuing to practice the Ten Steps as demonstrated by quality processes.