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featured from Birth Center

Aspen Valley Hospital Redesignated as “Baby-Friendly”

Community News

Aspen Valley Hospital Redesignated as “Baby-Friendly”

by Aspen Valley Hospital

August 4, 2022

Breastfeeding programs are key for official recognition from Baby-Friendly USA

 

Aspen Valley Hospital was among the first hospitals in Colorado to merit the honor of Baby-Friendly designation in 2015. This year the Hospital was redesignated as Baby-Friendly by Baby-Friendly USA, just ahead of National Breastfeeding Month and World Breastfeeding Week, which take place in August.

 

Aspen Valley Hospital is proud to be a leader in adopting this global program sponsored by the World Health Organization and UNICEF. While this put the Hospital in an exclusive group of more than 6,000 hospitals in the US where only 590 hold Baby-Friendly designation for maternity and infant care practices, the hope is that more facilities will turn towards the Baby-Friendly USA philosophy that seeks to protect “the precious first days in the birth facility as a time of bonding and support not influenced by commercial interests.”

 

What does the Baby-Friendly designation mean for mothers and babies?

 

“It means that they’re receiving what’s considered the gold standard of maternity and infant practice,” says Heather Knott, RN, BSN, Childbirth Educator and International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant who coordinates the lactation and childbirth programs at the Hospital. “Research has demonstrated that if we implement all these practices, it gives mothers and babies the best chance for success.”

 

At its core, the Hospital provides mothers with the tools and follow-up support to be successful with a breastfeeding-only strategy for the first six months of their child’s life and to continue breastfeeding after the introduction of solid foods, at least through the first year. The Baby-Friendly program includes prenatal education, ongoing post-natal support with one-on-one counseling from certified breastfeeding/lactation consultants and weekly Bosom Buddies breastfeeding support group meetings in Aspen and El Jebel.

 

The Hospital’s redesignation runs through 2025, and demonstrates its continued success in supporting, promoting and protecting breastfeeding by engaging in specific practices, such as:

  • Informing pregnant women about the benefits of breastfeeding
  • Helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth
  • Feeding infants only breast milk unless medically indicated
  • Allowing mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day

 

The Hospital has added considerable prenatal education on breastfeeding over the years. It really grew when Knott and her team noticed that Spanish-speaking moms were not signing up for childbirth classes at the same rate as English speakers. So, they started the OB Navigation and Tour to reach out to the community of Spanish speakers, and the program proved to be so successful that it is now used by the whole community.

 

“When mothers come for a tour, we can personally guide them through anything they are concerned about ahead of time, get them pre-registered and ready to roll,” Knott says. “Hopefully, they also sign up for childbirth classes, which includes a two-hour session on breastfeeding.”

 

The post-natal Bosom Buddies program is a safe and welcoming environment for new moms to come together and meets Thursdays at the Aspen Birth Center and Tuesdays at the Baby Café on the second floor of the Eagle County Community Center in El Jebel. Knott attends both groups to provide clinical support in answering mothers’ questions. The El Jebel Bosom Buddies group has both Spanish and English language support.

 

To celebrate World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7, and National Breastfeeding Month in the United States, both Bosom Buddies groups will host celebrations that are open to the public — August 5 in Aspen and August 16 in El Jebel.

 

The World Health Organization and UNICEF launched the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative in 1991 to assist hospitals around the world in giving mothers the information, confidence and skills necessary to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies.

 

Studies have shown significant health benefits for both babies and mothers. Babies who are breastfed are healthier in infancy and are less likely to develop chronic diseases later in life. This is why the US Surgeon General’s office, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and more than a dozen government agencies and private medical associations in the United States endorse and encourage breastfeeding.

 

“It is a global, evidence-based program that supports women from all kinds of cultures and different economic circumstances,” Knott says.

 

Baby-Friendly USA Philosophy

These are the basic tenets of the philosophy and approach:

 

1. Human milk fed through direct breastfeeding is the optimal way for human infants to be nurtured and nourished.

There is no question that breastfeeding is the optimal feeding and caring method for the health of both the baby and the mother. An abundance of scientific evidence concludes that mothers and babies who breastfeed experience improved health outcomes and lower risks for certain diseases. Breastfeeding is the natural biological conclusion to pregnancy and an important mechanism in the natural development of the infant.

 

2. The precious first days in the birth facility should be protected as a time of bonding and support not influenced by commercial interests.

Hospitals and birthing centers wield enormous influence over the first days of life and play a critical role in determining breastfeeding success. Before the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative began to take hold across the US, commercial interests significantly influenced infant feeding practices in ways that undermined breastfeeding. Baby-Friendly facilities are centers of support in which evidenced-based care is provided, education is free from commercial interests, all infant feeding options are possible, and individual preferences are respected.

 

3. Every mother should be informed about the importance of breastfeeding and respected to make her own decision.

We aim to ensure that every mother is fully informed of the importance of breastfeeding and receives the help she needs to achieve her breastfeeding goals. We respect that breastfeeding is not possible for some families in certain situations, that supplementation is sometimes medically appropriate, and that some mothers will decide not to breastfeed. Every mother has the right to evidence-based information, free from commercial interests to help her decide how to feed her baby and should be equally supported and treated with dignity and respect for her infant feeding decision.

 

Learn more about the Aspen Birth Center and Lactation Services at Aspen Valley Hospital by calling 970.544.1130 or clicking here.

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