Friday, February 26, 2016

Improving Breastfeeding in Texas through the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative

By Shanna M. Combs, MD, FACOG
Fort Worth Obstetrician-Gynecologist
Member, TMA Committee on Maternal and Perinatal Health

The Baby Friendly Hospital initiative is a global initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to encourage hospitals to foster an environment that actively encourages new moms to pursue as well as be successful in breastfeeding their newborns. Breastfeeding has been shown to improve neonatal and maternal health outcomes, as well as improvements in families and communities. Breastfeeding even has a favorable outcome on the environment, since it requires no extra packaging and thus cuts down on pollution and garbage disposal.

I am very excited about the recent redesignation of Baby Friendly Hospital at my home institute of Texas Health Harris Methodist Fort Worth, which has been Baby Friendly since 2010. I am also very proud to be a practicing obstetrician in the state of Texas, since we now have 14 hospitals in Texas that have received the designation of Baby Friendly Hospital. Texas is second in the nation, behind California with 77 Baby Friendly Hospitals.

Since everything is bigger in Texas, I encourage physicians in family medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology to encourage their home facilities that are not Baby Friendly Hospitals to engage in initiatives such as the WHO/UNICEF Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, the Texas Ten Step Program, the Star Achiever Breastfeeding Learning Collaborative (Cohorts A, B, C), Best Fed Beginnings, and EMPower Breastfeeding learning collaboratives (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and the CHAMPS learning collaborative (Kellogg Foundation). New moms need help and encouragement in the difficult yet rewarding job of breastfeeding, and this encouragement needs to start on the first day of life in the hospital.

1 comment :

Jeanette said...

Really a shame that there are no 'baby friendly' designated hospitals here in the Austin area. Don't understand why our capital city is lagging behind others in the state.

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