GALLIPOLIS — Holzer Health System, along with other maternity centers in Ohio, is taking steps to promote its support of successful breastfeeding. Staff also recently won an award for its efforts.
The Ohio First Steps for Healthy Babies is a voluntary breastfeeding designation program through the Ohio Hospital Association and Ohio Department of Health that recognizes maternity centers in Ohio for taking steps to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding in their organization. A star is awarded for every two steps achieved in the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, as defined by the World Health Organization and Baby-Friendly USA. The initiative encourages maternity centers across the state to promote and support breastfeeding one step at a time.
To participate with the program, Holzer is providing information and hospital practices supportive of breastfeeding and the Ohio First Steps for Healthy Babies program. In 1991, UNICEF and the World Health Organization launched the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative to ensure that birthing hospitals will become centers of breastfeeding support. A maternity facility can be designated ‘baby-friendly’ by implementing 10 specific steps to support successful breastfeeding. These ten steps include:
1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all staff.
2. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one half-hour of birth.
5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and maintain lactation, even if they should be separated from their infants.
6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, unless medically indicated.
7. Practice rooming in – that is, allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
9. Give no pacifiers to breastfeeding infants.
10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.
“It is our hope that Ohio First Steps for Healthy Babies will prompt our leaders and employees to have thoughtful conversations in the hospitals about the benefits of breastfeeding in order to educate patients and the community,” said Susan Rowe, RN, MSN, director, Women & Children’s Services, Holzer Health System. “The support a new mother receives from hospital employees and leaders can impact her decision to breastfeed. Increasing the number of breastfed newborns can lead to a decrease in the likelihood for future health conditions for the child such as asthma, diabetes and obesity.”
For more information about Ohio First Steps for Healthy Babies, visit http://ohiohospitals.org/ohiofirststeps.
Article submitted by Holzer Health System.