The staff with Henry Mayo Hospital’s Lactation Program believe that breastfeeding is the best choice for both mother and baby.
Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital makes it their business to save lives, whether its through a complicated heart surgery or the simple act of breastfeeding.
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A Baby-Friendly Hospital
Henry Mayo was designated as a Baby-Friendly Hospital in 2011, the 11th in the nation to receive the designation from Baby-Friendly USA.
Baby-Friendly hospitals emphasize breastfeeding and promote it among pregnant and postpartum mothers, because of the health benefits that this natural form of feeding can provide.
To become Baby-Friendly, hospitals must follow the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding,” which include informing mothers of the benefits, helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth, teaching mothers how to maintain lactation and encouraging mothers to nurse infants on demand.
Although Henry Mayo is currently only one of 182 designated hospitals in the nation, the federal government passed a law requiring all hospitals to meet the criteria by 2020, said Mary Beth Sweet, Lactation Program coordinator at Henry Mayo.
It’s part of the Healthy People 2020 initiative, which was launched in 2010 and sets 10-year goals to improve the overall health of society in areas such as early childhood, dementia patients, blood disorders and sleep habits.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
When it comes to encouraging new mothers to breastfeed, Sweet said that the benefits to both mother and baby are hard to ignore.
“No one can argue with the data…in terms of the benefits,” she said.
Sweet described breast milk as a “live biological fluid,” and said that it just makes sense to feed human babies with human milk.
Babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first six months are less likely to develop food allergies, diabetes or diarrhea and less likely to suffer from leukemia or SIDS, according to Sweet.
Mothers who breastfeed are less likely to develop postpartum depression, breast or ovarian cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis.
Each breastfeeding session also burns 500-700 calories and helps new mothers lose weight after giving birth.
Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers
To comply with the Baby-Friendly “Ten Steps,” Sweet has created a comprehensive program that includes prenatal education and help for women who experience breastfeeding problems, in addition to ensuring that the pediatrician is on board after the mom and baby discharge from the hospital.
There is a weekly breastfeeding workshop every Thursday from 9:30 to 11 a.m. for new mothers to discuss breastfeeding failures and successes and check their baby’s growth.
Between 18 and 22 women come to each meeting, Sweet said.
About 96 percent of the moms who come through Sweet’s program want to breastfeed their babies, she said, but there is still a stigma associated with breastfeeding, especially in public.
She is appalled by some of the comments she has seen, she said, citing the story of a young woman who chose to breastfeed her baby in her cap and gown and then received backlash when the picture went viral.
In a similar vein, NBC Los Angeles reported last week that Facebook had changed its stance and would allow pictures of mothers breastfeeding, after facing criticism for removing the pictures.
There are also laws protecting women who want to pump breastmilk in the workplace, Sweet said.
The Lactation Accommodation portion of the California Labor Code requires employers to “provide a reasonable amount of break time to accommodate an employee desiring to express breast milk for the employee’s infant child… The employer shall make reasonable efforts to provide the employee with the use of a room or other location, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to the employee’s work area, for the employee to express milk in private.”
As a Baby-Friendly hospital, Henry Mayo has already achieved success by increasing their percentage of mothers who exclusively breastfeed to 69 percent in 2012, up from 48 percent in 2007.
In 2012, they were also a few percentage points higher than the state average of 62 percent.
In August, Henry Mayo will celebrate World Breastfeeding Week, with a lactation boutique, custom bra fittings, pump rentals and information for new mothers about going back to work.
For more information about Lactation Services at Henry Mayo and the programs they provide, click here or call 661-253-8238.
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Source: Santa Clarita News