SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4Utah) – Intermountain Logan Regional Hospital and Intermountain Cedar City Hospital are the first hospitals in Utah to receive a five-star rating for being a breastfeeding friendly facility from the Utah Department of Health by completing all ten steps of the 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.
“We’ve been working to earn this breastfeeding friendly rating since 2014 when a team of women and newborn caregivers began to meet monthly to prioritize the steps needed to achieve this goal,” says Margo Christensen, RN, lactation standards team lead and board-certified lactation consultant at Intermountain Logan Regional Hospital. “We developed a policy for all Intermountain facilities and Logan led the way.”
“Our experience has taught us when moms and newborns engage in early skin-to-skin contact, it greatly increases a mother’s success with breastfeeding,” said Caralee Lyon, RN, women and newborn nurse manager at Intermountain Cedar City Hospital. “Our journey has been led by international board-certified lactation consultant nurses. All our caregivers encourage and support mothers’ choices including breastfeeding and alternate feeding choices. Currently our breastfeeding initiation rate at our hospital averages between 92 to 95 percent,” Lyon adds.
“Intermountain Healthcare is committed to the Stepping Up for Utah Babies program and promoting breastfeeding friendly practices in our mom and baby nursing units. Other Intermountain hospitals in Utah with labor and delivery units are in varied stages of the process of earning this designation,” said Anne-Marie Savage, RN, MSN, executive director, obstetric and neonatal operations for Intermountain Healthcare.
The ten steps are evidence-based maternity care practices that demonstrate optimal support of breastfeeding, as well as improved care experiences and outcomes for non-breastfeeding families.
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.
Christensen says all newly hired caregivers in the Intermountain women and newborn program complete an eight-hour breastfeeding education course and one-hour refresher courses are offered annually. She and other lactation consultants provide bedside support and outpatient consultations after moms go home from the hospital as well as a list of community breastfeeding resources.
The state health program website cites research that shows breast milk is the best food for infants and that breastfeeding is 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.
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