The long-term benefits of breastfeeding for babies and mother are undisputed. Breastfeeding is linked to decreased risk of illness and mortality for infants. It is also associated with reduced risk for maternal illness. It is well documented that maternity practices in infant nutrition and care have a significant impact on a mother’s initiation and continuation of breastfeeding. That means the degree of care that the birthing facility provides to support breastfeeding can have a long-lasting effect on the health of babies born as well as enhance the health and care satisfaction of the patients.
As the number of women who intend to breastfeed rises, families are seeking birthing facilities that support and encourage their efforts to breastfeed. Every delivery is a chance to start a long-term relationship with the birth family. Providing breastfeeding support can deliver long-term benefits to mothers, babies, and our community.
Here at CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital – Sulphur Springs, we recognize the importance of increased initiation and continuation of breastfeeding in our community. In June of last year, our hospital joined the Texas Breastfeeding Learning Collaborative, where representatives from numerous state organizations were present to support, regulate, and fund the hospital initiative to improve breastfeeding rates statewide. Here we learned that breastfeeding rates in Texas lag behind national averages. The Texas Department of State Health Services has created the Texas Ten Steps initiative, which is an evidence-based guide aimed to help hospitals improve breastfeeding outcomes.
Before this initiative, 70% of women stated that they wanted to breastfeed upon admission, however only 30% were meeting their own breastfeeding goals. After launching the initiative in September 2015, we have seen steady increase in exclusive breastfeeding rates. Exclusive breastfeeding is defined as no food or drink other than breast milk unless medically indicated. In February of this year, our exclusive breastfeeding rate was 70%!
To support improved initiation of breastfeeding rates, all babies are placed skin to skin with their mothers after delivery, unless they are unable to for medical reasons. Babies stay on their mothers’ chest for one hour or until after their first breastfeeding. This special time decreases mom and baby’s anxiety, boosts mom’s confidence in caring for her baby, stabilizes baby’s heart rate, respirations, blood sugar, temperature, and babies cry less! Mothers and fathers are encouraged to continue to place their baby skin to skin with them as much as possible. Babies love it!
We, at CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital-Sulphur Springs have made many changes to improve the success rates of moms’ meeting their breastfeeding goals. Some of the changes are listed here: We no longer hand out diaper bags provided by formula companies, no longer give out pacifiers, no longer send mothers home with formula samples, hired a full time lactation nurse, formed a hospital wide breast feeding committee that meets monthly, increased prenatal education regarding breastfeeding and skin to skin, educated our staff on breastfeeding and skin to skin benefits, formed BIBS Community breastfeeding support group that meets monthly and on Facebook, have an outpatient lactation clinic for assistance with breastfeeding after discharge. We also have three Rn nursery nurses planning to take their lactation consultant exam in October. That will make a total of six certified lactation consultants in our community! We offer a free breastfeeding education class the first Monday evening of every month. We are working very closely with our local WIC office to support mothers after discharge.
To celebrate World Breastfeeding Month, we are teaming up with the Sulphur Springs WIC office to host a “Breastfeeding Celebration!” which takes place on August 19 at 1-4 pm in our Memorial Medical Plaza conference room. All pregnant mothers and breastfeeding moms and their families are invited to come have food, games, door prizes, massages, professional photos, and more!
As you can see, we’ve been working very hard in our labor and delivery and nursery department at CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital -Sulphur Springs. We encourage you to call for more information on our breastfeeding education class, monthly support group, or breastfeeding celebration event. To contact us, please call (903) 439-4091.