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Madison Hospital earns Baby-Friendly USA status

Madison Hospital is the first hospital in North Alabama and just the fourth in the state to earn Baby-Friendly USA certification through the World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund. The Baby-Friendly program recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that have demonstrated a commitment to the research-based steps that support infant feeding and early mother/baby bonding.

Madison Hospital employs a team of four International Board Certified Lactation Consultants to educate new parents on the benefits of breastfeeding and provide ongoing support for nursing mothers. Numerous studies have shown breast milk helps shield babies from health problems including pneumonia, gastrointestinal tract infections, type 1 diabetes, asthma and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

“Parents get a lactation consultant visit every day they are with us,” said Renee Colquitt, Madison Hospital’s Lead Coordinator of OB Services. “When they leave, they take our consultants’ cell phone numbers so they can call or text if they are having problems.”

That encouragement helps explain why Madison Hospital has one of the highest breastfeeding initiation rates among Alabama hospitals, with nearly 83 percent of mothers who gave birth there in 2016 starting their babies on breast milk. That’s well above the state average of 67.6 percent and slightly higher than the national average of 81.1 percent.

Whether new moms choose breastfeeding or formula feeding, the Madison Hospital staff teaches them to feed their babies on cue and engage in practices that promote bonding.

To be certified Baby-Friendly, Madison Hospital had to prove that it follows the Baby-Friendly program’s “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding” and eliminated practices that could interfere with mother/baby bonding. The certification process took about two years. To enhance bonding, Madison Hospital encourages immediate skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby after both vaginal and cesarean births. Also, healthy infants stay in their parents’ hospital room instead of the nursery.

“We’re really excited about becoming a Baby-Friendly USA hospital,” said Colquitt. “It shows parents they are choosing a hospital with a heart for family-centered care.”