Southeast Georgia Health System One of Nine in State Chosen for the Georgia Baby-Friendly Hospital 5-Star Incentive Project to Promote Breastfeeding

The Southeast Georgia Health System is one of nine hospitals in the state to be selected for the Georgia Baby-Friendly Hospital 5-Star Incentive Project, a pilot program designed to support and recognize hospitals as they move toward the national Baby-Friendly® designation for breastfeeding.

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is a program of the World Health Organization and UNICEF that recognizes hospitals who provide optimal support for breastfeeding by implementing The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.

“Our participation in this project lays the foundation for the Health System to achieve the long term goal of Baby Friendly designation for both the Miriam and Hugh Nunnally Maternity Care Center and the Camden Campus Maternity Care Center,” says Shannon Wainright, R.N., MBA, director, Patient Care Services. “Evidence shows that delivering at Baby Friendly hospitals increases the exclusivity and longevity of breastfeeding for mom and baby.”

The Georgia Baby-Friendly 5-Star Incentive Project recognizes these hospitals with one star for every two of The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding they implement. It also provides $7,000 in funding to help them pursue Baby-Friendly designation. The incentive project is a partnership of the Georgia Department of Health and the Georgia SHAPE Initiative, a network of public and private organizations committed to improving the health of young people throughout the state.

“We know that breast milk offers the best nutrition for infants, and numerous studies show that exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life reduces the risk of illness and childhood obesity,” says Kim Buckley, R.N., BSN, manager, patient care services, Miriam and Hugh Nunnally Maternity Care Center. “It’s important to give our infants the best start possible at the beginning of their lives.” Currently, Georgia ranks 43rd in the U.S. for breastfeeding care delivered in maternity facilities.

“This program will help us to educate women prenatally, during their hospital stay and post-partum about the breastfeeding benefits for the mother and the baby and to help them reach their breastfeeding goals,” says Jo Wright, IBCLC, an international board-certified lactation consultant at the Health System.

Although the Georgia Baby-Friendly 5-Star Incentive Project is currently being implemented on the Brunswick Campus, the Health System plans to pursue the Baby-Friendly status for the Camden Campus as well. Both Maternity Care Centers already have several of The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding in place.

The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, developed by a team of global experts, consist of evidence-based practices that have been shown to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration.

The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are:

  1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
  2. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
  3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
  6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast-milk, unless medically indicated.
  7. Practice "rooming in"--allowing mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
  8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
  9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
  10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.

To learn more about maternity care services offered at Southeast Georgia Health System, please visit sghs.org. For more information about the national Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, visit www.babyfriendlyusa.org.