Northeast resident Katie Huber is the proud mother of five month- old Tenzin. Despite having to juggle her new responsibilities as a mom with her job as a project coordinator for a commercial kitchen contractor, she is deeply committed to exclusively breastfeeding her young son.
That’s one of the many reasons Huber is thrilled with the support she received from the caring staff at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center during and after her pregnancy and delivery. “Knowing that it was a Baby-Friendly Hospital was one of the positives for me,” she recalls.
After several years of putting their training into practice, the hospital was certified as Baby-Friendly in April 2015; one of only two Baby- Friendly Hospitals in Maryland.
Samuel Smith, MD notes, “The Baby- Friendly criteria is rigorous. We have to establish and communicate policies that support breastfeeding, provide 20 hours of training to all staff and educate pregnant women well before they give birth. We initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth, encourage breastfeeding on demand and avoid pacifiers and formula.”
Catherine Ramsey, BSN, RNC-MNN, patient care manager, Mother/Baby, Perinatology, Women’s Health Center, says, “In the mother-baby unit, all the care is brought into the room—the baby gets a bath, pediatric care and nursing care right there. That was a huge change in our practice and has been very positive, allowing moms to pick up on the baby’s feeding cues and other needs.”
“We want women to breastfeed because of the huge health benefits for themselves, their babies and society in general,” Dr. Smith explains. “Most women initially breastfeed but then wean their baby earlier than desired. We’ve already doubled the rate of moms who breastfeed while at the hospital. Moms ideally should exclusively breastfeed for at least six months.”
The program also encourages skin-to-skin contact. “Studies have shown that this promotes successful breastfeeding and helps regulate the baby’s body temperature,” says Jennifer Smith, BSN, RNC, nurse manager in Labor and Delivery.
Karen Corson, RN, nursing education specialist, adds, “The mom can hold her baby uninterrupted and be part of every conversation. We also include the dads in skin-to-skin contact.”
As a Baby-Friendly hospital, the entire care team is focused on supporting their patients. Dr. Smith explains, “We make sure our staff and facilities are sensitive to moms and provide the support they need. I’m so proud of our staff and physicians who are absolutely first rate. It’s awesome to watch how well they coordinate care and communicate. We’re way ahead of the national curve in many ways, including eliminating elective deliveries before 39 weeks of gestation. Baby-Friendly is tough to master but we took it on ahead of most hospitals and our patients are reaping the rewards.”
Huber remembers that breastfeeding was more challenging than expected. “The labor and delivery nurses immediately helped me to get Tenzin to latch on. I got instruction ahead of time, but I still needed them to show me exactly what to do when the time came. The lactation specialist came every morning to help, too. There was nothing that would disrupt breastfeeding.”
Once the mother leaves the hospital, she can call the lactation specialists for support, get a consultation or attend weekly support group meetings.
Huber exclaims, “I can’t speak highly enough of the staff. They were all fantastic, and the lactation line helped me when I had a question. While breastfeeding is hard, it’s definitely worth it.
To schedule an appointment, please call 443-777-7900.