Since being awarded the Baby-Friendly Hospital designation in December of 2014, Fitzgibbon Hospital continues to be one of only four hospitals in the state of Missouri to meet the stringent requirements. The World Health Organization, along with Baby-Friendly U.S.A., sets standards for mother-baby care to improve health outcomes for infants in their earliest stages of life.
"The difference between us and other hospitals that are not Baby-Friendly is the culture. The initiative requires that all staff within the organization complete training to provide excellent service to mothers and babies regardless of their department," said Natalie Lavelock Miller, Lactation Consultant for Fitzgibbon Hospital.
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative challenges hospitals to create a culture of care from the moment an expectant mother begins their journey of bringing new life into the world. From education about their pregnancy to care of their baby after birth, it truly is a "baby-focused" experience.
"Being Baby-Friendly also requires a resource commitment from Fitzgibbon Hospital to ensure that standards are maintained and that infants get the healthiest start to life possible," said Lavelock.
Expectant mothers who have their prenatal appointments with Marshall Women's Care receive an award-winning educational book that was written, compiled and published by the staff of Fitzgibbon Hospital. This book was recently recognized by the Missouri Association for Healthcare Public Relations and Marketing Show-Me Awards as the winner of the Special Publications under $5,000 Production Cost, winning against other, much larger hospital systems. But being Baby-Friendly means much more than receiving award-winning educational materials.
"We do our best to keep mothers and babies together at all times so that they can begin bonding and learning from one another. This begins with skin-to-skin contact in the birthing room and is continued throughout their stay as their babies room-in," said Lavelock.
Mothers also have 24/7 access to trained nursing staff and board-certified Lactation Consultants even after going home. In addition, Fitzgibbon Hospital also participates in the Baby and Me Tobacco Free Smoking Cessation Program that rewards expectant mothers with a diaper voucher of up to $25 per month for a year for staying smoke-free.
Fitzgibbon Hospital also offers childbirth education classes to help new parents and those seeking a refresher before welcoming their next child into the family.
"Our childbirth education classes are taught by Sarah Wansing who is both a labor and delivery nurse and a Certified Nurse Midwife. She brings incredible experience and compassion to each class and strives to ensure that our parents are well-informed and well-prepared for the journey ahead," said Lavelock.
Fitzgibbon Hospital is also the host site for this year's "Big Latch On" event to be held from 9:45 - 11:30 a.m., on Saturday, Aug. 6, in the Atrium. This annual event, organized by the Saline County Health Department, is part of a global movement to draw awareness to the importance of breastfeeding. Nursing mothers, as well as those who advocate for breast feeding are encouraged to attend the annual event which began in New Zealand in 2005. The event encourages women to support one another, build relationships and help raise awareness.
For women who are pregnant and want to learn more about the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative and how it can make a difference in your birthing experience, call Marshall Women's Care at (660) 886-7800.