In 2015, while there are more than 5,600 hospitals in the United States, there are only 277 active Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers – and UMC became one of them. The “Baby-Friendly” designation is given after a rigorous on-site inspection is completed.

Baby Friendly USA is the U.S. authority for the implementation of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (“BFHI”), a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies. Based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, this prestigious international award recognizes birth facilities that offer breastfeeding mothers the information, confidence, and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies.

At UMC, our maternity service meets the Baby-Friendly® requirements. Our maternity service model keeps stable mothers and babies together from birth until discharge. The first step of the process is to provide skin-to-skin (STS) for mother and baby immediately following birth. This helps the baby adapt to life outside the mother’s body. Newborn stress levels are reduced, the heart and respiratory rate stabilizes glucose levels increase, temperature increases and the newborn starts to move toward the breast to feed. Mothers also have decreased stress and pain levels as they begin to get to know and nurture their newborn. We delay other typical newborn procedures until the first feed. We also provide STS for stable Cesarean birth mothers sometimes immediately following the birth or within the first hour in the L&D recovery room.

We also encourage a support person to attend Cesarean Births. Following these changes, we've demonstrated that over 100% percent of our mothers who deliver vaginally and by Cesarean to and p initiate breastfeeding within the first hour after birth. Our exclusive breastfeeding rate has steadily increased from 16% in 2012 to 44% in 2016. In addition, we now have International Board Certified Consultants (IBCLC) and a cadre of Certified Lactation Consultants working both in the hospital and outpatient clinic settings to provide support to mothers.” Our goal is to keep mothers and babies together for 23 hours per day. Following the baby’s birth, the family is transferred to the 30-bed Mother-Baby Unit. Newborn assessments, baths, and other procedures are done at the bedside to assist new families in learning to care for the baby.

Sometimes mothers and babies need extra support. All high-risk births are attended the High-Risk Team comprised of EPCH physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists. We also have a Newborn nursery which is used for newborns needing closer observation immediately after birth. However, most of our mothers and babies are able to stay together immediately after delivery. This is called “rooming-in.”