Charlotte, N.C., February 10, 2015 – On January 28, Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center received international recognition as a Baby-Friendly Designated birth facility. One of only seven facilities to be designated in North Carolina, Presbyterian Medical Center is the first hospital in the Charlotte area to receive this recognition.
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), a global initiative of the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), was first launched in 1991. The initiative’s goal is to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies through breastfeeding and immediate skin-to-skin bonding by recognizing birthing facilities who successfully implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.
“We are thrilled to be recognized as a Baby-Friendly facility,” said Pat Campbell, vice president of Women’s Services at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center. “We recognize that women who choose to breastfeed 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, Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center is staffed with lactation consultants who assist mothers in gaining the skills and confidence they need to breastfeed 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 breastfeed. 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 breastfeed,” says Dr. T. Christopher Morris, chair of the OB/Gyn department at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center. “Research shows that a mother’s decision to breastfeed 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 breastfed 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. Breastfeeding 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 breastfeeding early in life can carry on through adulthood as well,” said Erin Washburn, DO, chair of the Pediatrics department at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center. She adds that for optimum growth and development, the American Association of Pediatrics recommends that moms breastfeed exclusively until babies are six months old, and continue until at least their first birthday.