PINEHURST – New mothers at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital are encouraged, whenever possible, to begin breastfeeding within minutes of their baby’s birth.
“We provide skin-to-skin contact for the first hour after birth if the baby is medically stable,” says Beth Hutchinson, R.N., the hospital’s administrative director of Women & Children’s Services. “We also try to initiate breastfeeding within the first hour of life.”
For these and other reasons, the maternity center at Moore Regional has received two stars in the North Carolina Maternity Center Breastfeeding-Friendly Designation initiative that recognizes maternity centers for promoting and supporting breastfeeding.
As of June of this year, 56 percent of Moore Regional’s mothers with newborns were breastfeeding exclusively, up 11 percent from the 45 percent of May.
The North Carolina Breastfeeding-Friendly designation is based on a five-star system. A maternity center gets a star for every two steps it achieves in “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding” as defined by the World Health Organization and Baby Friendly USA.
According to Hutchinson, Moore Regional’s two-star designation indicates that its maternity center has demonstrated that it provides the same kind of breastfeeding support that many other hospitals in the state provide. She expects that it will take only a little more staff and physician education on the breastfeeding “Ten Steps” for the Moore Regional Maternity Center to reach the four-star level it hopes to achieve by October.
The staff of the Maternity Center at Moore Regional Hospital includes two lactation consultants who consult with every breastfeeding mother.
According to Breastfeeding Friendly criteria, a successful breastfeeding program includes, in addition to the information already mentioned, a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all maternity center staff as well as staff training in the skills necessary to implement the policy. All pregnant women are also informed about the benefits and management of breastfeeding and are shown how to breastfeed and to maintain lactation even if they should be separated from their infant.
“The role of a hospital is not just to heal the sick,” says Karen Robeano, DNP, R.N., Moore Regional’s chief nursing officer. “It is also to promote health, and our Women & Children’s Services staff is determined to give our tiniest patients, our newborns, a healthy start on life. There is no better way to do that than by encouraging new mothers to breastfeed and to communicate the many proven health benefits of breast milk to them.”