Mommy Monday: Hospital Takes New Approach to Breastfeeding

Lynchburg, VA - Virginia Baptist Hospital delivers roughly 200 babies a month in Lynchburg, and now the hospital is taking a new approach when it comes to breastfeeding.

They're one of 90 hospitals in the United States to be part of the Best Fed Beginnings initiative, a collaborative by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to put into practice new steps to foster successful breastfeeding.

Lesley and Adam Clark just welcomed Grayson into the world.

"We have millions of questions," Lesley Clark said. "Every little sound and movement we're like, 'Is that normal?'"

Breastfeeding is at the top of their list of concerns.

"I was very nervous coming into this and told them I really wanted to breast feed and really needed that encouragement," Clark said.

Now, Virginia Baptist Hospital is implementing 10 Best Fed steps to help new moms like Lesley succeed at breastfeeding.

As Coordinator of Childbirth and Family Education, Brenda Osterhus is part of getting it all done.

"There are a lot of moms who want to breastfeed and just don't breastfeed successfully. They say I wanted to, I couldn't and have a lot of guilt around that," Osterhus said.

With changes like skin to skin contact between mother and baby right after birth, Straus said the staff in the mother and baby unit is already seeing success.

"If we get that baby out from the very beginning and right on the mom the baby transitions better. The breathing regulates, it warms better and the breastfeeding is able to happen right from the beginning and that is an imprint on the baby's brain that really sets it up for successful breastfeeding," Osterhus explained. "Research shows that 80 percent of breastfeeding problems would go away if we would focus on that first hour of skin to skin."

Pediatrician Dr. Rachel Gagen said what they're doing now will help make healthier kids long term.

"I can tell you the short term answer is that I already have moms and babies that are committed to breastfeeding," Gagen said. "I see them at their well visits and I don't see them otherwise."

As Clark gets ready to leave the hospital, she feels like there's a good foundation already in her goal to breastfeed Grayson.

"We go home tomorrow and I think we'll be ready," Clark said. "We have lots of friends and family around to support us and lots of resources from the hospital."

Here is a look at all of the steps Virginia Baptist will put into play as they go for the Baby Friendly designation:

The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding

  1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
  2. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
  3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
  6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
  7. Practice "rooming in"-- allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
  8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
  9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants
  10. 10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic

The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding for Hospitals, as outlined by UNICEF/WHO and Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative USA