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Intermountain Hospitals earn five-star breastfeeding-friendly ratings from Utah Department of Health

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Intermountain Healthcare’s Utah Valley, American Fork, and Orem Community hospitals have all received a five-star rating for being breastfeeding-friendly facilities from the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) by completing all ten steps of the department’s Stepping Up for Utah Babies program. 

The state health program recognizes Utah hospitals that have taken steps to promote, protect, educate, and encourage breastfeeding in their facilities and presented both hospitals with a plaque. Earning a five-star rating typically takes years.  

“Many women come into the breastfeeding experience thinking it will come naturally, but for most of us, it does not, and it’s important for women to know they’re probably going to need some help, and that’s ok,” said Michele Carnesecca, RN, CLC, a nurse and certified lactation consultant at Intermountain Healthcare’s America Fork Hospital 

“Each of our nurses has extra training to help with breastfeeding support and we have a team of lactation specialists. We help new moms be successful at breastfeeding and overcome any barriers in the first couple of days after birth,” she added. 

The ten steps of the Stepping Up for Utah Babies program are evidence-based maternity care practices that demonstrate optimal support of breastfeeding, as well as improved care experiences and outcomes for non-breastfeeding moms and families.  

“Patients who deliver at our hospitals can expect evidence-based care to support mothers and infants with breastfeeding and bonding. This certification is only obtained by proving best practices with data,” said Carnesecca. 

“Our nurses teach new moms about the importance of holding their baby skin to skin right after delivery to promote bonding, as well as the benefits of breastfeeding. Board-certified lactation consultants are available in the hospital daily to support new moms. After mom and baby go home, they can receive continued support through our onsite lactation clinic,” noted Jody Stevenson, Intermountain Orem Community Hospital nurse manager for inpatient services. 

The various hospital nurse managers are all able to share best practices with each other and implement ideas to help increase breastfeeding support for new moms. 

They include hospital practices such as: encouraging moms to hold their new baby skin-to-skin right after delivery; allowing moms and babies to remain together 24 hours a day in the hospital; training staff to support all new moms’ feeding choices; encouraging breastfeeding on demand; reducing formula supplementation unless medically indicated, and not using pacifiers for breastfeeding infants. 

The state health program website cites research that shows breast milk is the best food for infants and that breastfed infants are associated with decreased risk for infant morbidity and mortality. It’s also been shown that breastfeeding moms have lower incidences of breast and ovarian cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and postpartum depression. 

The state program is patterned after the international Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative started by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund in the 1990s. 

To find out more about Intermountain’s virtual breastfeeding course click here.  

For a complete list of hospitals working toward the five-star, breastfeeding-friendly rating, visit Stepping up for Utah Babies

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