Greenville Health System’s Greenville Memorial Hospital has received international recognition as a Baby-Friendly Designated birth facility and is among a small number of U.S. hospitals.
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.
“We are ecstatic to receive this designation and proud to do our part in improving the health of Upstate families,” said Jennifer Hudson, M.D., GHS medical director of newborn services. “Scientific studies show many benefits to breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact, and we have a responsibility to help families adopt these practices for the healthiest of outcomes.” Watch the video below to hear more from Dr. Hudson.
As a Baby-Friendly hospital, Greenville Memorial Hospital 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. The hospital also has three lactation rooms so patients and visitors can have convenient and private places to breastfeed or pump, and its women’s boutique is stocked with breastfeeding products and supplies that can be used during and after a hospital birth.
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.
There are 3,200 birthing hospitals and centers in the United States and fewer than 200 are designated Baby-Friendly. In just over one year, South Carolina has gone from zero to six Baby-Friendly hospitals. Hudson credits the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services for supporting hospitals on the journey to receive Baby-Friendly designations.
Steps to receiving Baby-Friendly designation include:
- Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
- Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
- Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
- Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
- Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
- Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, unless medically indicated.
- Practice “rooming in,” allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
- Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
- Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
- Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.