Mom is the ruler of all things, is how Lisa Melvin, RN-C and certified lactation consultant, characterizes the decisions new mothers make regarding the care of their newborns. For that reason, Melvin, a nurse manager, and her colleagues in the maternal-child unit at the San Martín campus of Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican in Las Vegas celebrated when they achieved Baby-Friendly Hospital designation
We decided as a facility that we wanted to do this to help our moms have a more informed decision and the resources necessary to breastfeed or bottle feed, Melvin said. We believe [breast or bottle feeding]is a moms decision. We dont force anyone to breastfeed, but we believe its the best for babies.
The Baby-Friendly Hospital designation signifies that a facilitys policies and philosophy offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding. Carson Tahoe Regional Health Center in Carson City is the only other Nevada hospital to achieve that status, according to the Baby-Friendly USA website. Baby-Friendly USA, Inc., is the accrediting organization.
Melvin said one of the policy changes nurses implemented was a bonding hour. Newborn and mother maintain skin-to-skin contact for the first 60 minutes after birth. The baby can feel the moms heartbeat and smell her. This really helps with breastfeeding, she said.
This change, while foundational to improving infant outcomes and the success of breastfeeding, wasnt easy to execute. Melvin helped relieve the nurses reluctance to change their workflow by modeling at a staff meeting how skin-to-skin bonding works.
I took a model baby and ran through the whole scenario, demonstrating how it could work, Melvin said. Once they saw it, they realized it could work.
Annemarie Vandermolen, RN, IBCLC, is one of two lactation consultants at the San Martín campus. She said the training nurses receive as part of the Baby-Friendly designation has elevated the level of care.
If Im not here, nurses can start implementing skin-to-skin themselves, which is very important, Vandermolen said.
Tips to help attain Baby-Friendly Hospital designation
1 Expect to educate others about new policies, such as why skin-to-skin bonding is essential. This is a culture shift that physicians may not recognize as valuable at first, according to Vandermolen.
2 Have staff nurses round with lactation consultants. Theyll gain experience in how to approach patients about breastfeeding issues and how to work with breast pumps.
3 Consider the value of providing evidence-based information to patients. Often we learn from other nurses, but what we learn isnt always the right information [to teach patients]. We educate ourselves, then we can educate our patients, she said.
How Baby-Friendly status sets a hospital apart
1 Nurses have more time at the bedside one-on-one with patients with wider opportunities for teaching on mother and baby topics, according to Melvin.
2 New moms receive superior support, particularly with feeding problems. Melvin regularly hears patients affirm the strong support received since the hospital began moving toward Baby-Friendly policies.