Holy Cross Outpaces National Average For Baby Health Practices
Breast feeding efforts pay off in new study.
Bucking a national trend that finds most U.S. hospitals fail when it comes to promoting breast-feeding, Providence Holy Cross Medical Center is among the top hospitals in the country for encouraging new mothers to breast feed their babies.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued this week its first ever report on the issue, and found the average hospital scored just 63 on a 100-point test of their policies in encouraging breast-feeding. About a quarter of hospitals nationwide bottle-fed babies in their nurseries even when the mothers were willing to breast-feed.
On the other end of the spectrum is Providence Holy Cross, where 95 percent of new moms have begun breast feeding their babies by the time they leave the hospital, said Sherri Mendelson, a registered nurse and lactation consultant.
Holy Cross was among just 59 hospitals in the nation designated "Baby-Friendly" last August by Baby-Friendly USA, under a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund to promote breast-feeding.
In fact, the Mission Hills medical center was the only hospital in the San Fernando , Santa Clarita , Simi and Antelope valleys to receive the designation.
“Holy Cross has made a concerted effort since 2004 to promote and support breast-feeding to improve the health of our entire community,” Mendelson said.
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative recognizes hospitals that provide an optimal level of care and information for breastfeeding mothers.
Breast-feeding is widely accepted as the best nutrition for babies. Breast milk contains antibodies that protect newborns from infections, contributes to an infant’s – and mother’s – general health.
The CDC study found some hospitals supplemented formula with water or sugar water, a common practice to quiet a crying baby.
“It is unfortunate that in many of the hospitals across the country health care providers are not making that effort to promote breast-feeding and its extensive health benefits for mothers and babies,” Mendelson said.
By contrast, Providence Holy Cross has a lactation team that offers a new parent education service, which includes round-the-clock breastfeeding support services, as well as pump rentals and prenatal education.
Holy Cross was able to augment this effort using a grant from the California Department of Public Health’s Birth and Beyond program. The grant was used to train 20 staff members to work with new mothers to help meet a state goal to increase breast-feeding rates in hospitals.