Many mothers want to breastfeed their babies, but stop early from a lack of ongoing support.
To encourage these mothers to continue on, Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne recently achieved redesignation as a Texas 10 Step facility by the Department of State Health Services.
The program is designed to improve maternity care practices in birthing facilities.
“The immediate hours right after birth are so critical for mothers and their newborns,” said Vicki Brockman, chief nursing officer at Texas Health Cleburne.
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said the percentage of births in hospitals with recommended maternity care practices that support breastfeeding increased from 1.9 percent in 2009 to 26.1 percent in 2018.
“Given the importance of breastfeeding on the health of mothers and children, it is critical that we take action to support breastfeeding,” he said. “Only through the support of family, communities, clinicians, healthcare systems and employers will we be able to make breastfeeding the easy choice.”
The Texas program is based on the World Health Organization/United Nations Children’s Fund’s 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, which bundles practices proven to increase breastfeeding and duration and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes for newborns.
“It’s important that our nurses understand how to create a comfortable environment to educate our patients on the best way to begin breastfeeding,” Brockman said. “Programs like Texas 10 Step allow us to navigate those precious moments between mom and baby with confidence.”
The 10 steps are:
• Have a written breastfeeding policy that is communicated to all health-care staff.
• Train hospital caregivers in the skills necessary to implement this policy.
• Teach all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
• Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within an hour of birth. This includes placing babies in skin-to-skin contact with their mothers immediately following birth for at least an hour and encouraging mothers to recognize when their babies are ready to breastfeed and offer help if needed.
• Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they should be separated from their infants.
• Give infants no food or drink other than breast milk unless medically indicated.
• Allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
• Encourage breastfeeding on demand. Teach mothers cue-based feeding regardless of feeding method.
• Give no artificial nipples or pacifiers to breastfeeding infants.
• Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge.
In all, Texas Health has 11 Texas 10 Step hospitals.