By SCOTT AUST, FCEDC Director of Communications
St. Catherine Hospital’s Maternal Child Center recently earned a prestigious designation as a Baby Friendly hospital, an internationally recognized program that recognizes hospitals that offer the finest level of care for infant feeding, skin-to-skin contact and mother-baby bonding.
St. Catherine is the second hospital in Kansas after Wichita’s Wesley Medical Center, and the only hospital in western Kansas to receive the designation.
“We’re very proud and very thankful for the great support we’ve had getting to this designation. Our administration is wonderful, our community is wonderful, so we really wanted to thank everyone,” Renee Hulett, Director for Maternal Child Services at St. Catherine Hospital, said Monday during a public to a come-and-go celebration of the Baby Friendly designation.
The Baby-Friendly Hospital initiative is a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Baby-Friendly USA is the program’s authority for program implementation in this country, and granted the prestigious award after completion of a rigorous on-site survey.
Hulett said it took about two years to prepare for the in-depth survey.
“The standards are very high. This was developed by the World Health Organization and UNICEF to promote mother-baby bonding and safe infant nutrition,” she said. “You don’t just apply for it and get it. You have to prove you’re working toward all these things that promote mother-baby bonding, and safe infant feeding.”
The road to the Baby Friendly designation began in 2013 when St. Catherine Hospital decided to participate in High 5 for Mom & Baby, a program initiated and funded by the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund that encourages evidence based maternity care practices that support breastfeeding.
To further the mission, St. Catherine ended up being one of only 100 hospitals in the country selected for funding by the CDC to participate in the EMPower Breastfeeding Training, a program to assist hospitals in the process of incorporating the ten steps to successful breastfeeding to which a hospital must adhere to receive, and retain, a Baby-Friendly designation.
“Those 10 steps incorporate about 10 to 20 sub-steps, and then we have to have data to support what we’ve done and how we are making those things happen, and we have documentation that backs up that data,” Janet Colson, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant for St. Catherine Hospital, said.
Baby Friendly hospitals have a different focus, Hulett said. Historically, women had a baby, the baby went to the nursery and then both went home. Research indicates allowing mom and baby bonding helps both mother and baby to transition better.
“There’s been a lot of needing to refigure the whole after birth process,” Hulett said. “Once a baby goes skin-on-skin with mom, they hear mom’s heartbeat, they can hear her breathing, and they transition to life much calmer than before.”
Hulett said mothers have indicated they wished they had had that option in previous births, and now even have fathers doing it.
“We had a dad say once, ‘You know, this is our third baby and the first time we’ve done skin-to-skin. I’ve never known where to be — over by my wife or over by the warmer with my baby. Now, with them together, I can concentrate on both of them at the same time,'” Hulett said. “It’s amazing for mom and baby — and family.”
Colson agreed, calling feedback from families “amazing.”
“Even the dads have a lot to say about how positive it is, and how different it is from four or five years ago,” Colson said. “It makes a lot of things easier when you get that golden hour of skin-to-skin. It just makes a lot of things with the baby easier, and also with the mom’s recovery.”
Questions about the Baby Friendly celebration should be directed to Colson at (620) 272-2309 or M.JanetColson@Centura.Org.