There’s nothing like a new baby to bring out the worrier in a first-time
mom. She’s got so many choices to make, and it’s normal for
her to question whether she’s making the right decisions.
But she can feel confident in the decision to breastfeed.
Breast milk helps babies develop stronger immune systems and reduces their
risk of allergies, asthma, diabetes, diarrhea, ear infections, obesity
and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). It also lowers the mother’s
risk of breast and ovarian cancer, diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis.
Still, only “four out of five mothers breastfeed,” states Lyn
Hrivnak, BSN, IBCLC, lactation consultant, Southeast Georgia Health System.
“For a variety of reasons, many mothers stop sooner than they intended.
We help mothers get off to the very best start and to support them throughout
their breastfeeding journey so they can meet their goals for feeding their
Southeast Georgia Health System is committed to increasing the rate of
breastfeeding and is a proud participant in the Baby-Friendly Hospital
Initiative led by the World Health Organization and UNICEF.
The Baby-Friendly designation recognizes hospitals that use certain evidence-based
practices to support healthy mothers and babies. The Health System follows
all of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding outlined by the initiative
and is on track to receive the Baby-Friendly designation.
Special training for team members
The Health System employs Hrivnak full time to help new mothers become
comfortable with breastfeeding. In addition, Baby-Friendly training (step
two of the 10 steps) is given to:
- Nurses, for 20 hours each.
- Physicians, for at least three hours each.
- All team members who interact with new moms, including unit coordinators,
surgical technicians, environmental services, radiology, anesthesia, emergency,
pediatrics, pharmacy, respiratory and PACU, for one hour each.
“Anywhere our mothers go in the Health System, we want to make sure
they are supported,” says Kim Buckley, R.N., BSN, manager of patient
care services at the Health System’s Miriam & Hugh Nunnally
Maternity Care Center. “If a mother needs help, those individuals
are trained to get her the support she needs.”
Education for new moms
“A lot of people think breastfeeding is really difficult –
but it doesn’t have to be,” says Hrivnak.
The Health System addresses that misconception and others by providing
pregnant women with educational resources on topics such as the benefits
of breastfeeding and how to manage breastfeeding (step three of the 10 steps).
“We provide breastfeeding education early in the pregnancy, so that
mothers know how to gather information and resources. When their baby
comes, they’re prepared,” Buckley says. “Once a family
is informed, they can make the breastfeeding decision that’s best
for them, and we support them no matter how they decide to feed their
After delivery, Health System team members assist women interested in breastfeeding by:
- Helping them breastfeed within one hour of birth (step four of the 10 steps).
- Promoting “rooming in” (allowing mothers and infants to remain
together 24 hours a day).
- Showing mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation even if
they are separated from their infants.
- Giving breastfeeding infants no food or drink other than breast milk (unless
medically necessary) and no pacifiers or artificial nipples.
- Encouraging breastfeeding “on demand” (whenever the baby is
hungry, rather than on a schedule).
“Helping mothers breastfeed within one hour of birth is one of the
most important steps to successful breastfeeding,” says Hrivnak.
“We encourage skin-to-skin contact for moms and babies during the
first hour of life because this ‘Golden Hour’ is ideal for
bonding. Skin-to-skin helps babies in their transition to life and with
learning to breastfeed.”
Support for the family
Education and support don’t end when the family leaves the hospital,
which is important, because as Baby grows, so does the number of Mom’s
“All of our nurses are trained to be able to help counsel her,”
The Health System provides support groups (step 10 of the 10 steps) and
breastfeeding classes at the Brunswick and Camden campuses. It also works
with local government and nonprofit organizations to help pregnant women
and new mothers obtain additional support.
Between 70 and 80 percent of mothers at Southeast Georgia Health System
begin breastfeeding while at the hospital. Prior to the Health System
pursuing a Baby-Friendly designation, those numbers were closer to 40
or 50 percent, says Buckley.
Patient reaction to the initiative has been positive. Mothers are noticeably
better informed and better prepared, Hrivnak says. “They know what
questions to ask. They seem to have an expectation of what they want their
breastfeeding experience to be. They have an expectation that help will
be available. And by participating in the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative,
we’re meeting that expectation.”
To learn more about maternity care services offered at Southeast Georgia
Health System, please visit
sghs.org/maternity or call 912-466-3184. For more information about the national Baby-Friendly
Hospital Initiative, visit