DeKalb Medical is the first hospital in the state of Georgia to be recognized as Baby-Friendly.
“This is a great accomplishment for our hospital and we could not be more proud,” said Rose McKelvie, DeKalb Medical, executive director, Women and Infant Services. “It has been a long journey and a lot of work but we are committed to bringing the best child birth options to expecting mothers and families in the community.”
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The initiative’s goal is to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies through breastfeeding and immediate skin-to-skin bonding.
There are more than 20,000 designated Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers worldwide. Currently there are 227 active Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers in the United States. The “Baby-Friendly” designation is given after a rigorous on-site survey is completed. The award is maintained by continuing to practice the Ten Steps as demonstrated by quality processes.
Steps to receiving Baby-Friendly designation include:
As a Baby-Friendly hospital, DeKalb Medical is staffed with lactation consultants who assist mothers in gaining the skills and confidence they need to breastfeed starting with prenatal appointments and they are available once the baby arrives.
- A written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
- Training all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
- Informing all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
- Helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
- Showing mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
- Giving newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
- Practicing “rooming in,” allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
- Encouraging breastfeeding on demand.
- No pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
- Fostering the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refering mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.
Other important practices of Baby-Friendly hospitals include encouraging skin-to-skin contact between mothers and newborns and rooming in. 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 better, normalize heart and breathing rates and reduce their likeliness of crying.
Along with earning the Baby-Friendly designation, DeKalb Medical also earned a 5-STAR Hospital Recognition from the Georgia Department of Public Health.
The Georgia 5-STAR Hospital Recognition program is awarded to hospitals that have accomplished all ten steps of the “Baby-Friendly” designation. Hospitals and birthing facilities that accomplish each step of the Baby-Friendly designation are awarded one star for every two steps implemented from the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. Hospitals are also required to complete the Georgia Breastfeeding Program-Scorecard Tool to receive their stars.