CHI Franciscan’s flagship hospital, St. Joseph Medical Center, recently became a Designated Baby-Friendly birth facility. The Baby-Friendly designation is awarded through Baby-Friendly USA, which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)’s co-sponsored Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. The award makes St. Joseph Medical Center the only current south Puget Sound hospital to have this significant international distinction. As part of the designation process, nurses and medical staff completed up to 20 hours of required education for the review process.
A key element of the being a Designated Baby-Friendly birth facility is an emphasis on healthy, accessible breastfeeding. The award process is based on the WHO’s Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding guidelines. Breastfeeding has long-term health benefits for mothers and babies. For mothers, it reduces the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and breast and ovarian cancers. For babies, it reduces the risk of ear and respiratory infections, asthma, sudden infant death syndrome, diabetes and obesity
“As a designated Baby-Friendly hospital, St. Joseph is recognized for providing new mothers with thorough, consistent education and support before leaving the hospital,” said Jakki Stodola, MBA, BSN, RNC, director of the Family Birth Center at St. Joseph. “The result is that a mother who gives birth here will receive significantly more education in order to make an informed decision about feeding her baby, whether she chooses to breastfeed or use formula. When a mother has questions about feeding her baby, our doctors, nurses, midwives and staff will all give consistent, evidence-based answers.”