MU Women’s and Children’s Hospital Goes Baby-Friendly

women's and children's staff at announcement

University of Missouri Women’s and Children’s Hospital has become the fourth hospital in Missouri to earn the Baby-Friendly® designation from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). MU Women’s and Children’s Hospital joins Fitzgibbons Hospital in Marshall, Hannibal Regional Hospital in Hannibal and Truman Medical Center in Kansas City.

MU Women’s and Children’s Hospital has been working toward this designation for more than two years, reviewing and revitalizing the care given to new mothers and their babies, making changes to ensure both mothers and babies are off to the best start.

“The Baby-Friendly® designation required our entire medical team to implement a comprehensive, detailed plan,” said Courtney Barnes, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the MU School of Medicine. “The staff’s dedication, willingness to listen to the patients’ wants and needs, and everyone’s efforts to make this happen — mean our hospital now has been recognized for having the highest standards when caring for mother and baby, especially related to breastfeeding.”

In order to receive the Baby-Friendly® designation, the medical team at MU Women’s and Children’s Hospital completed and must continue to follow 10 steps outlined by the WHO. These steps include:

  • Having a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff
  • Training all health care staff in the skills necessary to implement this policy
  • Informing all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding
  • Helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth
  • Showing mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants
  • Giving infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated
  • Practicing “rooming in” — allowing mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day
  • Encouraging breastfeeding on demand
  • Giving no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants
  • Fostering the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and referring mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or birth center

“Being together gives parents more opportunities to learn about normal baby behavior,” Barnes said. “And they get to do this knowing there is a knowledgeable staff that is readily available to answer their questions, no matter if it is about breastfeeding, baby movements or uneven breathing patterns. Our staff is able to talk with families about what they should expect from their new babies, and this gives everyone more confidence and can be especially comforting for moms when they are trying to breastfeed.”

The babies born at MU Women’s and Children’s Hospital are never taken far from their mothers, unless health concerns warrant it. This gives moms and babies the best chance to get to know each other. The first few days of life are believed to offer an optimum opportunity for bonding to take place between mother and baby.

Studies have also shown giving infants human milk gives them the most complete nutrition possible; breastfed children have far fewer and less serious illnesses than those who never receive breast milk, including a reduced risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), childhood cancer and diabetes. By keeping the mother and baby together, the baby is able to breastfeed whenever the baby wants. If a mother decides not to breastfeed, the staff supports her decision and provides the best feeding options for the infant’s needs.

In 2014, nearly 1,900 babies were delivered at MU Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

Click here for high-resolution photos from the announcement.