As the result of more than three years of collaboration between NMC’s Family Birth Center, Northwestern OB/GYN, and key community partners, NMC has earned the prestigious international designation of being a Baby Friendly hospital. NMC joins Northeastern in St. Johnsbury as the only two Vermont hospitals to have earned Baby Friendly designation.
“Baby Friendly means offering an optimal level of care for mother/baby bonding and infant feeding,” said Anna Gabaree, RN, Supervisor of the NMC Family Birth Center. “It is evidence-based care for newborns aligned with world-wide recommendations and it is more than breastfeeding. It means keeping families together, rooming in, encouraging skin to skin contact between baby and parents, and supporting families with breastfeeding and other feeding choices.”
The clinical differences for newborns and their parents of these best practices are already evident. “We are finding that babies are healthier and moms have less pain,” said Anna. “The studies support it and we are seeing it. By keeping families together and emphasizing skin to skin, babies are feeding better, they have low blood sugar less often, and they are crying less. Moms are requiring less pain medication and actually have less post-partum bleeding.”
Achieving the Baby Friendly designation that has helped leverage these improved outcomes involved extensive staff training (21 hours of education for each Birth Center nurse and 16 hours for each OB/GYN nurse, for example), policy change, data collection, chart review, involvement of the entire hospital organization, and an intensive on-site inspection. Only 17.9% of babies nationally are born in Baby Friendly designated hospitals, as only 356 hospitals in the United States have achieved this designation.
“Achieving this designation is such a wonderful example of exceptional care for patients and collaboration between the Birth Center and Northwestern OB/GYN and with our partners like the Vermont Department of Health and Franklin County Home Health Agency,” said Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s CEO. “It means our newest community members are receiving the best of care, even before they are born and in their first days of life. I am so proud of the work of this team as they wrap around the growing families of northwestern Vermont.”