Gone are the days of whisking away a newborn to the nursery, formula and pacifiers are locked away and breastfeeding is the gold-standard as part of efforts by Truman Medical Center (TMC) Hospital Hill and other hopeful “Baby Friendly” organizations across the country. These leaps toward ultimate “Baby Friendly” certification have earned TMC Hospital Hill the designation as only the fourth Show Me 5 Hospital in Missouri and a Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
“The goal of the baby friendly initiatives is to encourage the natural instincts of a new mom,” said Lynette Wheeler, TMC Chief Nursing Officer. “Creating that immediate bond with skin-to-skin contact, allowing infants to stay in the same room as their mothers and trying to avoid any artificial or nipple replacement items like pacifiers help both mom and the new baby have a happier, healthy life, especially in those first few months”
The Missouri “Show Me 5” Hospital Initiative: Taking the First Steps to Being “Baby Friendly” certification requires hospitals to meet five criteria:
- Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within the first hour of birth
- Practice “rooming-in,” allowing infants to stay in the same room as their mothers
- Give infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated
- Avoid pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants
- Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge
“Because the babies are in the room they are being fed on demand, mothers are taking advantage of our support meetings and overall it makes for a deeper mother-baby bond and a healthier life for both,” Wheeler added.
The Missouri Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite Program is a collaboration between the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the Missouri Breastfeeding Coalition to educate employers on the value of providing lactation support in the workplace and to recognize businesses that support their breastfeeding employees.
Employer support of breastfeeding provides many benefits to businesses:
- Cost savings of $3 per $1 invested in nursing support
- Reduced absenteeism to care for sick children because breastfed infants have less illness
- Lower health care costs
- Improved employee productivity with higher morale and greater employee loyalty
- Increased ability to attract and retain valuable employees
- Family-friendly image in the community
The TMC WIC program also received the Missouri Breastfeeding Friendly WIC Clinic designation from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. To date 35 of the 112 WIC sites across Missouri have earned this designation.