Some Jackson-area hospitals become "baby friendly" - - Jackson, MS

Some Jackson-area hospitals become "baby friendly"

Source: Cheryl Lasseter Source: Cheryl Lasseter
Source: Cheryl Lasseter Source: Cheryl Lasseter
Source: Cheryl Lasseter Source: Cheryl Lasseter
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

"This is Kendall Giselle Sanford. When I got out of recovery they brought her straight on in and she's been here ever since," said Kendall's mother, Karlysa Byrd. 

Kendall was born in August at The University of Mississippi Medical Center's Wiser Hospital for Women and Infants, and Byrd says her hospital experience with this baby has been much different than the first time around. 

"My first daughter was premature so I didn't get the chance to bond with my baby. This one I get to bond with," she said, unable to fight back tears. "With this one I get to spend all day with her, just like she's at home with me."

This time, Byrd is in the hospital's newly designated Mother-Baby Unit. As long as the baby and the mother are healthy, and the mother doesn't object, the newborns no longer stay in the nursery getting care from a nurse. Those newborns now spend all their time in their mother's room.

This hospital is not yet a certified Baby-Friendly Hospital, but that designation will come soon, and it will join close to 400 other hospitals across the nation that are following 10 recommendations from the World Health Organization which center around successful breastfeeding. The WHO says babies who breastfeed are healthier, and successful breastfeeding requires more time with mom in the baby's earliest days. 

"It was a huge culture change, not only for our patients but for our staff, because the nurses who had been postpartum nurses had always just taken care of mom. Now they're taking care of both mom and baby," says Nurse Manager Alice Chaney Herndon.

Herndon adds that the benefits of early mother-baby bonding stretch beyond ease of breastfeeding. 

"It helps babies regulate their temperature," she said. "We encourage moms to hold their babies skin to skin so it helps control their breathing."

The Mother-Baby Unit was established in 2014. Prior to that, the mother had to specifically ask if she wanted the baby to stay in the room with her at all times. Now, it's the other way around: moms have to ask if they don't want baby in the room at all times. 

"The University of Mississippi Medical Center has not done away with our baby nursery," added Herndon. "It is here if we need it for babies or for mothers." 

Currently, Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg is the only Certified Baby-Friendly Hospital in Mississippi. However, many metro-area hospitals are moving in the same direction. 

Merit Health is working toward ‘Baby Friendly’ designation in accordance with Baby-Friendly USA (BFUSA). As part of the initiative, Merit Health promotes breast feeding to new mothers, supporting them and the new baby throughout the process. In addition, the hospital allows healthy babies and mothers to ‘room in’ day and night so they have the best chance to get to know each other.

This also gives new mothers the opportunity to learn their baby’s feeding cues, should they choose to breast feed.

St. Dominic Hospital already promotes a model where the baby stays in the mother's room as much as possible rather than in a nursery. In addition, St. Dominic is working toward WHO's Baby-Friendly Hospital designation.

A Baptist Health Systems spokesman says, "Baptist is currently researching the Baby-Friendly hospital certification. This research includes evaluating what insurance companies will possibly require of hospitals in the future. Once we complete our study, we will decide if we will move into the next phase of this type of certification." 

Click here for a complete list of Baby-Friendly Hospitals in the United States. 

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