Mississippi Breastfeeding Rates Improving with Baby-Friendly Initiative
In a south Delta town, a shared focus on delivering quality care is having a big impact on mothers, babies, families and the community. The transformation is the convergence of efforts from physicians and nurses, clinic teams, the local hospital, the community and a health insurance company.
In March 2018, South Sunflower County Hospital in Indianola became one of only three hospitals in the state to achieve the Baby-Friendly Hospital designation to date. Baby-Friendly Hospital status is an international quality designation that recognizes delivering hospitals and facilities that provide evidence-based maternity care with the goal of achieving optimal infant feeding outcomes and mother-baby bonding.
Baby-Friendly hospitals encourage and educate women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding. They help mothers initiate breastfeeding within an hour of birth and understand how to maintain lactation. They also allow mothers and families to remain together 24 hours a day through the practice of rooming in. These steps and others are all designed to foster a strong parent-child bond while also giving new mothers more confidence and experience in caring for their newborns before leaving the hospital for home. We encourage all network hospitals that deliver babies to pursue and achieve the Baby-Friendly Hospital Designation. Nearly every hospital in Mississippi that delivers babies is now working towards the designation.
Dr. Sarah Broom, Medical Director, shares our perspective on the value of the designation and how they began their work about five years ago.
“The evidence shows that breastfeeding is linked to improved outcomes,” she says. “We have some serious healthcare issues in our state – childhood obesity, diabetes, maternal morbidity and mortality, breast cancer – and we knew increased breastfeeding could have a positive impact in these areas. So, our management made the bold and important decision that we were going to encourage a commitment to the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative among our network hospitals.”