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Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center recognized as ‘Baby-Friendly’

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center joins an elite group of North Carolina hospitals that have received international recognition as a Baby-Friendly Designated birth facility.

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, 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 that successfully implement 10 steps to successful breast-feeding and the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. To date, more than 422 U.S. facilities have been designated baby-friendly, including three Novant Health hospitals in North Carolina.

“It is an honor to have Forsyth Medical Center recognized as a Baby-Friendly facility,” said Kirsten Royster, service line leader for OBGYN in the greater Winston-Salem market. “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.”

Research shows that breast-fed babies reap medical benefits, including lower risk of a wealth of chronic and acute conditions. Since 1990, breast-feeding rates in the U.S. have been rising steadily, as about 81 percent of mothers have started out breast-feeding according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2016 Breastfeeding Report Card. For optimum growth and development, moms should breast-feed exclusively until babies are six months old, and continue until at least their first birthday, according to recommendations by the American Association of Pediatrics.

“When it comes to breast-feeding, we know that mothers are influenced by their health care providers,” said Ann Smith, director of women’s and children’s health for Forsyth Medical Center. “Our responsibility is to help educate mothers about breast-feeding and to give them the tools and resources they need to be successful, no matter what they decide.” 

Forsyth Medical Center is staffed with lactation consultants and support staff whose role is to assist mothers in gaining the skills and confidence they need to breast-feed. Other primary practices of Baby-Friendly hospitals include encouraging skin-to-skin contact between mothers and newborns immediately after birth, and keeping babies in their mothers’ room during their stay in the hospital. Both encourage bonding and improve the newborn’s ability to breast-feed. Studies also show that immediate skin-to-skin contact help newborns to maintain their temperatures, normalize their heart rate and reduce their likeliness of crying.

Forsyth Medical Center joins four other Novant Health hospitals that have been designated Baby-Friendly: Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center, Novant Health Rowan Medical Center, Novant Health UVA Health System Culpepper Medical Center and Novant Health Matthews Medical Center.

Posted on Monday, May 08, 2017