Tulane Health System’s Tulane Lakeside Hospital for Women and Children has received national recognition as a Baby-Friendly Designated birth facility. Tulane Lakeside is one of 5 hospitals in Louisiana with this specialty designation and one of the first in the New Orleans Metropolitan area.
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding. The global program was launched in 1991 by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund with the goal to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies through breastfeeding and immediate skin-to-skin bonding.
“It’s what’s best for moms and babies,” said Jennifer Schmidt, RN, Director of Women and Children’s Services at Tulane Lakeside Hospital for Women and Children. “Scientific studies show many benefits to breastfeeding and bonding through skin-to-skin contact and mother and baby rooming together. We have a responsibility to help families adopt these practices for the healthiest of outcomes.”
Becoming a Baby-Friendly facility is a complex journey toward excellence in providing maternity care. Over the course of three years, a multi-specialty team created a culture at Tulane Lakeside Hospital that supports a woman’s decision to breastfeed. Tulane Lakeside Hospital has specialty trained lactation consultants who assist mothers in gaining the skills and confidence they need to breastfeed. Lactation nurses begin educating women during prenatal classes and they are available to assist mothers in the hospital or through outpatient appointments once the baby arrives.
Other important practices of Baby-Friendly hospitals include encouraging skin-to-skin contact between mothers and newborns and rooming in. Both practices encourage bonding and improve the newborn’s ability to breastfeed. Studies also show that immediate skin-to-skin contact help newborns’ maintain their temperatures better, normalize heart and breathing rates and reduce their likeliness of crying.
Steps to receiving Baby-Friendly designation include:
- Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
- Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
- Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
- Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
- Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
- Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
- Practice “rooming in,” allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
- Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
- Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
- Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.