Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women recently received the Baby Friendly Hospital (BFH) designation – an impressive milestone that demonstrates the value of teamwork and our nurses’ commitment to educating and supporting new mothers on the benefits of breastfeeding.
Launched by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund in 1991, the BFH Initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding. Baby Friendly USA awards the designation to birthing hospitals that successfully implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.
“While achieving the baby friendly hospital designation was a lengthy four-phase process,” said Women’s Support Services Director Nancy Hurst, “this designation means that we are providing the highest level of care related to breastfeeding education, instruction and support for our patients.”
To meet the rigorous criteria for the BFH designation, the Pavilion for Women implemented numerous breastfeeding practices to ensure our nurses, obstetricians, and pediatricians are well trained to teach mothers how to breastfeed and maintain lactation, even when separated from their infants, which can occur when babies are confined in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for long-term care. Implementing these evidence-based practices required tremendous teamwork between and among departments and staff.
“We collaborated with leaders and staff from all areas of the Pavilion for Women including OB and Maternal Fetal Medicine clinics, labor and delivery, mother-baby units, perioperative services and women’s specialty unit,” Hurst said. “We also educated environmental services, volunteer services and other ancillary areas on what BHF is and what it means for our patients.”
Several evidence-based breastfeeding practices initiated at the Pavilion for Women include:
- Helping mothers breastfeed within one hour of birth
- Teaching mothers to respond to their infant’s early feeding cues rather than schedule feedings
- Encouraging “rooming in” so mothers and infants can stay together 24 hours a day
- Implementing immediate skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby following delivery
- Standardizing prenatal education to educate women about the benefits of breastfeeding
- Providing 20 hours of didactic and skills-based education and instruction to all nursing staff caring for mothers and babies at the Pavilion for Women
- Feeding infants only breast milk and providing mothers with resources for lactation support prior to leaving the hospital
- Promoting Breastfeeding Champions Program to inspire nurses to become role models for other nurses by reminding them why it is important to encourage women to breastfeed
“New mothers often times do not succeed in breastfeeding because there are no systems in place to support them,” said Prenatal Education Program Manager Anne Wright. “Since 88 percent of the mothers who deliver at the Pavilion for Women want to breastfeed, it’s important that we implement and sustain practices that ensure their success.”
After giving birth to two sets of twins at the Pavilion for Women, Elizabeth Shackouls recalls how incredibly supportive the nursing staff was in helping her overcome certain breastfeeding challenges after both pregnancies.
“The nurses helped me figure out latch issues and when I became discouraged, they assured me things would be easier with time and supported me through every feeding,” Shackouls said. “Even long after I was discharged, I continued to seek the nursing team’s advice on various issues and always felt like they were there for me no matter what. The renowned nursing staff and the exceptional care they provide patients are instrumental in setting Texas Children’s apart from other hospitals.”
Nurse Girija Babu, who is also a breastfeeding champion in her group, described the journey toward BFH designation as an “incredible” experience.
“By achieving this milestone, we’re ensuring our nursing mothers receive the support they need during and after their hospital stay,” Babu said. “We are also grateful to our OB providers and anesthesia team for their continuous support in making sure newborns are placed skin to skin on the mother’s chest soon after birth.”
For more information about Baby Friendly USA, click here.