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Charlotte, N.C., Jan. 5, 2017 – Novant Health Matthews Medical Center has received international recognition as a Baby-Friendly Designated birth facility, joining nine other hospitals designated in North Carolina.
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), a global initiative of the World Health Organization and UNICEF, was first launched in 1991. The initiative’s goal is to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies through breast-feeding and immediate skin-to-skin bonding by recognizing birthing facilities who successfully implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breast-feeding and the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.
“We are thrilled that Matthews Medical Center has been recognized as a Baby-Friendly facility,” said Roland Bibeau, president and chief operating officer of Novant Health Matthews Medical Center. “We recognize that women who choose to breast-feed may need extra support during their hospital stay. The evidence-based guidelines reinforced by the Baby-Friendly program help us provide that support to mothers and their growing families.”
As a Baby-Friendly hospital, Matthews Medical Center is staffed with lactation consultants who assist mothers in gaining the skills and confidence they need to breast-feed once the baby arrives. Other important practices of Baby-Friendly hospitals include encouraging skin-to-skin contact between mothers and newborns and rooming in, allowing the baby to stay in the mother’s room during their time in the hospital. Both practices encourage bonding and improve the newborn’s ability to breast-feed. Studies also show that immediate skin-to-skin contact help newborns maintain their temperatures, normalize heart and breathing rates and reduce their likeliness of crying.
“One of the most highly effective preventive measures a mother can take to protect the health of her infant and herself is to breast-feed,” said Tracy Forster, senior director of nursing at Matthews Medical Center. “Research shows that a mother’s decision to breast-feed can be greatly influenced by the opinion and support of her healthcare providers, so we want to ensure that mothers are connected to the resources they need to make an informed decision at every stage of their pregnancy.”
Research shows that breast-fed babies have lower risk of asthma, childhood leukemia, childhood obesity, ear infections, eczema (atopic dermatitis), diarrhea and vomiting, lower-respiratory infections, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), type 2 diabetes and necrotizing enterocolitis, a disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract in pre-term infants. Breast-feeding is also linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, certain types of breast cancer and ovarian cancer in mothers.
“Many of the health benefits that babies get from breast-feeding early in life can carry on through adulthood as well,” said Forster. She adds that for optimum growth and development, the American Association of Pediatrics recommends that moms breast-feed exclusively until babies are six months old, and continue until at least their first birthday.
Matthews Medical Center joins three other Novant Health hospitals that have been designated Baby-Friendly: Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center, Novant Health Rowan Medical Center and Novant Health UVA Health System Culpepper Medical Center.