SALISBURY - Novant Health Rowan Medical Center reported today that its efforts to encourage the number of new mothers to breastfeed in the hours following delivery has resulted in a 36-percent increase, from 44 percent in 2012 to 80 percent in 2013.
The effort is part of the hospital's participation in Best Fed Beginnings, a nationwide quality improvement initiative to encourage breastfeeding. Rowan Medical Center is one of only 90 hospitals in the United States and five in North Carolina selected to participate in the program, which is led by the National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality and supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Experience shows us that breast milk not only provides the very best nutrition for babies but also helps reduce their risk of respiratory infections, allergies, ear infections and asthma," says Connie Hoffner, RNC, IBCLC, a clinical educator and board-certified lactation consultant at Rowan Medical Center. "Breastfeeding also protects mothers against breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer, and helps mothers lose weight and return to their pre-pregnancy state sooner. So, in the long run, breastfeeding is really best for the community because it helps both babies and families be healthier."
Rowan Medical Center's efforts to encouraging more mothers to breastfeed included:
· Training all labor and delivery unit nurses in the skills necessary to support breastfeeding
· Encouraging all mothers to initiate breastfeeding within the first hour of life
· Promoting skin-to-skin contact, or kangaroo care, in the hours and days following birth
· Having lactation counselors meet with every new mother before discharge to answer questions or help with breastfeeding difficulties
· Promoting rooming in, where babies stay in the hospital room with mom rather than in a nursery
· Establishing a breastfeeding warmline and breastfeeding support class to answer moms' questions
· Working with peer counselors at the Rowan County Health Department and La Leche League International to create breastfeeding support groups
The hospital is also holding regular community health fairs to explain the benefits of breastfeeding to new and expectant mothers. The next fair will be held Wednesday, Feb. 19, at 5 p.m. in the Lamaze Room at Rowan Medical Center. For more information, call 704-210-5188.