Baptist Memorial Hospitals Earn Prestigious Baby-friendly Designation

The Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative is a global program designed to encourage mother-baby bonding, individualized care and successful breastfeeding practices at hospitals around the world. More than 20,000 maternity facilities in 150 countries have earned the prestigious designation, including Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto, Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle, Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union City and Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi.

“Being a baby-friendly hospital is about providing evidence-based maternity care for the women in our area,” said Kimberly Rickard, manager of labor and delivery and the obstetric emergency department at Baptist DeSoto.

How do hospitals earn the Baby-friendly designation?

To qualify for international recognition, Baptist’s professionals adhere to standards established by a team of global experts.

“We follow the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, and that’s how we got our designation,” said Lori Porter, nurse manager of the mother-baby unit and level 2 nursery at Baptist DeSoto.

The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding guide the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative and require hospitals to have a breastfeeding policy and trained staff who provide the information and support new moms need to initiate and continue breastfeeding.

In addition to providing breastfeeding assistance, Baptist offers educational classes for women before delivery, during their hospital stay and after they go home.

Benefits of Breastfeeding and Lactation Support

According to Baby-friendly USA, the national authority for the initiative, optimal care starts with skin-to-skin contact after delivery.

“Skin-to-skin contact helps promote attachment between moms and babies,” said Rickard. “It helps babies transition to life outside of the womb, and it stabilizes their temperature and breathing. It also helps support breastfeeding for moms that want to breastfeed.”

Breastfeeding offers many benefits for babies, including protection against certain allergies, less stomach upset and a decreased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Also, women who breastfeed decrease their risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer and osteoporosis later in life. According to Porter, breastfeeding also helps decrease the risk of postpartum hemorrhage.

Nurses at Baptist Memorial hospitals acquire more than 20 hours of baby-friendly training. Qualified health care teams help patients begin breastfeeding immediately after delivery.

“If new moms have difficulty breastfeeding, I’ll come to their room to provide support,” said Candace Doddridge, lactation nurse and prenatal educator at Baptist DeSoto. “When a mother goes home with her baby, we reach out with a follow-up call to see if she’s having problems. We also make sure to provide a callback number in her discharge information. If a patient is having severe difficulty at home, we can make an appointment for her with lactation nurses for hands-on, in-person support.”

Designing a Family-centered Environment

Baptist’s family-centered approach to maternity care allows families to be with mothers as much as possible during labor and after delivery. A few hours after giving birth, mothers and newborns move down the hall to the mother-baby unit.

“At Baptist DeSoto, our labor and delivery unit, mother-baby unit and level 2 nursery are all on the same floor behind the same set of doors,” said Rickard. “We’re all together in the Women’s Pavilion so moms don’t have to move very far after delivery.”

Nurses on the mother-baby unit provide couplet care, which means the same nurse takes care of a postpartum mother and newborn. Mother-baby care offers significant benefits to both moms and newborns by promoting bonding and attachment.

“We provide what’s called 24-hour rooming in, which allows mothers and babies to spend much-needed time together,” said Porter. “During this time, moms learn feeding cues, including when to feed more as the baby requires it rather than feeding on a schedule. We provide this instruction whether the baby is breast- or formula-fed.”

In addition to achieving optimal infant feeding, the baby-friendly recognition demonstrates Baptist’s commitment to providing evidence-based maternity care. Together, these goals are the building blocks for high-quality care that has a lasting impact.

“Moms and babies get unique care at Baptist,” said Rickard. “We support your choices and make sure you are educated and prepared for taking your baby home.”

Learn more about maternity and childbirth care at Baptist. Find a doctor by visiting our Find a Physician page.