UNC Health Talk

North Carolina Women’s Hospital Receives Prestigious International Award

Baby-Friendly® USA, Inc. is the U.S. authority for the implementation of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies. Based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, this prestigious international award recognizes birth facilities that offer breastfeeding mothers the information, confidence, and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies.

Dr. Daniel Clarke-Pearson, chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology stated, “The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative not only provides the best possible care for mothers and infants, but it is a clear demonstration of solid team work between UNC obstetrical providers and nursing personnel.” He added, “The distinction is an attestation that the medical and nursing teams are able to align care plans and work together to provide our patients with the information and support necessary to achieve successful breastfeeding.”

UNC Health Care’s Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer, Dr. Mary Tonges said, “This initiative and ultimate distinction was a lengthy journey which required a lot of hard work and diligent effort by our breastfeeding team.” She also stated, “The efforts of those individuals required not only evaluation of current practices, but adoption of policies and procedures that will ultimately lead to improved health outcomes for both mothers and infants.”

“The Baby-Friendly® designation reinforces our commitment to our mothers and their babies,” said Gary Park, president of UNC Hospitals. “As a health system, we take great pride in the Women’s Hospital being the only hospital in central North Carolina that’s earned the Baby-Friendly® distinction and one of only three in the entire state.”

While the Baby-Friendly® designation belongs to N.C. Women’s Hospital, the distinction is also a positive reflection on the Newborn Critical Care Center within N.C. Children’s Hospital, which will admit as many as 900 newborns from more than 50 counties across North Carolina in 2012. Neonatal practitioners at UNC have long understood that human milk is the best food for babies, seeing fewer infections and better long-term outcomes among NICU babies whose mothers choose to breastfeed.

“Premature infants often are too immature to breastfeed, so we encourage mothers to provide milk to their newborns by breast pump,” said N.C. Children’s Hospital chief physician, Dr. Wesley Burks. “It can be many weeks before these babies are ready to breastfeed, but we have an effective support system in place to assist mothers in pumping and storing their milk, as well as nurses and lactation specialists who provide the necessary one-on-one support and advice. Breastfeeding is truly a health system-wide commitment.”

With the addition of the Baby-Friendly® distinction, N.C. Women’s Hospital also has a five-star rating as a North Carolina Maternity Center Breastfeeding-Friendly designation from the North Carolina Division of Public Health. There are only two hospitals in North Carolina with this dual distinction.

There are more than 20,000 designated Baby-Friendly® hospitals and birth centers worldwide. Currently there are 134 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.

The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are:

  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 should be 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 artificial teats (also called bottle nipples) or pacifiers to breastfeeding infants.
  10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic

Baby-Friendly® USA: Pat Kelly 508-888-8092
N.C. Women’s Hospital: Juli Kidd 919-843-4927 or jkidd@med.unc.edu
N.C. Children’s Hospital: Danielle Bates 919-843-9714 or danielle_bates@med.unc.edu