Carolinas Medical Center (CMC) was selected as one of 90 hospitals nationwide to participate in Best Fed Beginnings, a national effort launched by the National Initiative for Children’s HealthCare Quality (NICHQ) to improve breastfeeding rates in states where the percentages of infants who are breastfed are currently the lowest. While breastfeeding is one of the most preventive health measures for both mothers and newborns, half of the babies born in the U.S. are given formula within their first week.
By nine months, only 31 percent of babies are breastfeeding at all. There are multiple benefits associated with a mother choosing to breastfeed versus giving her child formula milk. Infants who are breastfed experience less frequent and severe cases of infectious diseases, a reduced mortality rate, and the healthy development of their neurological system. They are also less likely to become obese. For mothers, breastfeeding can decrease the risk of breast and ovarian cancers, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease. I think this could go towards the top as well.
This 22-month learning collaborative includes the implementation of a model for maternity services that will support new mothers who make the decision to breastfeed their children. The model includes ten steps to successful breastfeeding, as established by UNICEF and the World Health Organization. Healthy People 2020, a 10-year government initiative launched in 2010 to improve the nation’s health, underscores national concern regarding breastfeeding. The program’s goals include decreasing the use of formula supplementation in the first two days of life and increasing the number of infants delivered at hospitals that have successfully integrated the “Ten Steps” model as outlined by Best Fed Beginnings.
CMC’s maternity care team is taking proactive steps to provide support and resources for mothers choosing to breastfeed. CMC has re-written its policy on breastfeeding and is educating an increasing number of its nurses in order to ensure that mothers are provided with quality treatment during their time at CMC and once they return home. By September 2014, CMC hopes to receive NICHQ’s “Baby-Friendly” Designation for the successful implementation of the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding” model.
Staci Hightower benefitted from the services provided by CMC as part of Best Fed Beginnings during the birth of her first child, Austin, at CMC’s Maternity Center on July 3. Staci spoke highly of her experience with the lactation consultants and nurses who cared for her during her four-day hospital stay.
“The nurses took their time and didn’t check us off of a ‘to-do’ list,” said Staci. “Any question I had was answered, and with a little extra information. As a new mom, [breastfeeding] can be scary at first, so the added information was much appreciated.”
In preparation for her return home, Staci was given a book titled “Wonderful Welcome,” that is distributed to all new mothers to help them have positive breastfeeding experiences. Although Staci has not yet needed to contact CMC with serious concerns, with the exception of a few minor lactation questions, she says, “I know I could call with any questions if I needed to.” Staci has already filled out two WOW cards, which recognize CMC care givers for providing outstanding care that exceeds expectations.