COLUMBIA, Mo. ― University of Missouri Women’s and Children’s Hospital has been selected to participate in Best Fed Beginnings, a first-of-its-kind national effort to improve breastfeeding rates.
The 22-month learning collaborative is being led by the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The initiative is also designed to help more hospitals nationwide achieve the “Baby-Friendly” designation. This designation recognizes a facility for its optimal level of care for infant feeding as outlined by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund’s Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.
“We are committed to achieving the Baby-Friendly designation,” said Courtney Barnes, M.D., an obstetrician-gynecologist at Women’s and Children’s Hospital. “Our journey toward this designation will not only ensure that breastfeeding mothers in our birthing center will be fully supported, but also that new moms who may not be aware of the benefits of breastfeeding will have everything they need to make an informed decision.”
Breastfeeding has multiple health benefits for both infants and mothers.
“For infants, it decreases the incidence and severity of many infectious diseases, reduces infant mortality and optimally supports neurodevelopment,” Barnes said. “It also decreases infants’ risk of becoming obese later in childhood. And for mothers, breastfeeding decreases the risks of breast and ovarian cancers, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease.”
Breastfeeding also helps new moms return to their pre-birth weight faster and promotes bonding between mothers and babies, Barnes said.
In addition to MU Women’s and Children’s Hospital, only two other Missouri hospitals (Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis and Truman Medical Center in Kansas City) were among the 90 hospitals nationwide selected to participate in the program.