Vidant Women’s receives breastfeeding award

Published 3:58 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Vidant Women’s Care in Washington recently earned the Mother-Baby Award, honoring its commitment to providing families with breastfeeding support.

The outpatient clinic is one of five in Vidant Health’s 29-county service area to receive the award. Mother-Baby Award criteria is closely aligned with that of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, and includes: having a breastfeeding policy in place; training the staff to follow the policy; informing all pregnant women about the benefits of breastfeeding; showing women how to manage lactation; and fostering breastfeeding support, among others.

“Mothers who may be undecided or don’t know about breastfeeding can make an informed decision about whether they want to pursue it or not,” said Sophie Szymeczek, a nurse representing North Carolina Breastfeeding Coalition. “We realize that every mother is not going to choose breastfeeding … but they’re a whole lot more likely to choose it if they have information.”

Elaine Clark, a nurse based at Vidant Medical Center, said she wanted to target the Washington area because of its low breastfeeding numbers.

Clark said part of educating women about breastfeeding is shifting the mindset of patients and care providers away from using formula, including in the gift bags given to new moms at the hospital.

“It’s a standard of care. It’s best practice. You know, people are getting smarter about where they want to go,” Szymeczek said. “Not that awards are everything, but if you’ve actually done the work to get something that’s meaningful, it would mean something to me as a patient to go there.”

Scientists alter animal milk as much as possible to mimic human breast milk, but it’s impossible to recreate it, according to Szymeczek. Various studies have proven the benefits of breast milk, from providing infants with immune system support, to promoting better bone density later in life.

“Everything that we know about breast milk and breastfeeding points to better outcomes,” Szymeczek said. “Breast milk is designed for human babies. It does all the things we want it to.”

Kaye Rouse, practice manager at Vidant Women’s Care, said now that the clinic’s staff is on board and trained, they can make a difference in mothers’ lives and promote breastfeeding as a healthier option.

“Those new moms coming in, they know they’ve got support. They know they’ve got somebody to talk to, especially when you get that baby home, there’s nobody there,” Rouse explained.

With the Mother-Baby Award at a clinic in Washington, Clark said she hopes the next step will be to designate Vidant Beaufort Hospital as a “Baby-Friendly Hospital.”