February 27, 2019 – 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.
Recently, Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. announced that the
Southeast Georgia Health System Brunswick Campus has received prestigious international recognition as a Designated Baby-Friendly hospital.
Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. is the U.S. authority for the implementation of
the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, a global program sponsored by the
World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s
Fund (UNICEF). The initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and
birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding
mothers and their babies. Based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding,
this prestigious international award recognizes hospitals and birth facilities
that offer breastfeeding mothers the information, confidence, and skills
needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies.
There are more than 20,000 designated Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth
centers worldwide. Currently there are 562 active Baby-Friendly hospitals
and birth centers in the United States. The “Baby-Friendly”
designation is given after a rigorous on-site survey is completed. The
award is maintained by continuing to practice the Ten Steps as demonstrated
by quality processes.
“Breastfeeding rates are increasing nationwide with more than 80
percent of mothers choosing to breastfeed,” states Lyn Hrivnak,
BSN, IBCLC, lactation consultant, Southeast Georgia Health System. “At
Southeast Georgia Health System, we help mothers get off to the very best
start by providing breastfeeding education before their baby is born as
well as after they’ve delivered. We also offer support throughout
their breastfeeding journey so they can meet their goals for feeding their
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, our team members are trained to get her
the support she needs.”
Education for new moms
“Breastfeeding goals are easier to achieve when mothers are well
prepared,” says Hrivnak.
The Health System provides 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,” explains Buckley. “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
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.
More than 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,
Patient reaction to the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding has been
positive. Mothers are noticeably better informed and better prepared.
“They know what questions to ask and they have an expectation of
what they want their breastfeeding experience to be,” says Hrivnak.
“They also 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