Seconds after her son Owen was born, Jessica Franklin felt a bond that she’d never experienced before.
“He’s my fifth child, but this time was much different. The nurses at Mercy immediately put Owen next to me, skin to skin, and he was breastfeeding within the first 20 minutes. I watched them weigh him and bathe him. It was an incredible experience!”
Because of new hands-on opportunities like Franklin’s, Mercy Hospital Lebanon has made a giant leap toward becoming “Baby Friendly.” The health system has been honored with the “Show-Me 5” award by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (MDHSS) for newborn breastfeeding and newborn care.
“A new mother’s instinct is to hold her child right way, and we do everything possible here at Mercy to make that happen,” said Julie Price, lead lactation consultant at Mercy Hospital Lebanon. “Every single one of our moms gets 24-hour contact with her newborn – in the same room. With our team by her side, she’s getting education, watching the baby and learning feeding cues in real time.”
The “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 giving pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants
- Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge
“We’ve always had the goal to achieve this designation,” Price said. “Today, 70 percent of our new moms are breastfeeding. It’s so important to emphasize to new mothers the health benefits for not only moms, but their babies, too.”
Research has shown that childhood leukemias, as well as breast and ovarian cancers, can be decreased with breastfeeding. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the risk of hospitalization for lower respiratory tract infections in the first year is reduced 72 percent if infants breastfeed exclusively for more than four months. It’s also associated with a 36 percent reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome. The AAP also notes more than 900 infant lives per year may be saved in the U.S. if 90 percent of mothers exclusively breastfed for six months.
“Mother’s milk is the healthiest form of infant nutrition, and moms like Jessica Franklin are doing their own research and finding that out,” Price said.
“My bond with Owen was formed instantly,” Franklin said. “From that point forward, everything is put into perspective. You look at pain differently and everything centers on that instant bond. If any mom is planning to breastfeed, I recommend doing so right away.”
The MDHSS presented Mercy Hospital Lebanon with its “Show-Me 5” Award during a brief ceremony at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 11.
Mercy Hospital Lebanon plans to continue its journey in creating an environment that is supportive of best practices in maternity care and of optimal infant feeding by implementing the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding of the “Baby Friendly” Hospital Initiative (BFHI). Those steps include creating a breastfeeding policy, training employees on that policy, informing expectant mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding, encouraging breastfeeding on demand and teaching mothers how to breastfeed. Learn more about the MDHSS’s “Show-Me 5” and “Baby Friendly” designations, visit http://bit.ly/ShowMe5.