Fri | Sep 22, 2023

Three more hospitals certified as baby-friendly

Published:Wednesday | December 4, 2019 | 12:00 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
From left: Patrina Rowe, mother of baby Sherina Grant; Dr Simone Spence, with baby Sherina Grant; Titoleane Martin, with her baby, Jordon Taffe; and Mariko Kagoshima, UNICEF representative at the National Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative Certification ceremony and launch of National Infant and Young Child Feeding Network at the Courtleigh Auditorium on St Lucia Avenue in New Kingston yesterday.

Mark Thompson was able to witness the birth of his child at the Lionel Town Hospital in Clarendon recently. It was an eye-opening experience that he thinks more fathers should have.

Though the ministry has no policy allowing for that practice, healthcare workers are able to accommodate fathers wanting to witness births at their discretion while ensuring the privacy of other mothers.

Lionel Town Hospital can facilitate such experiences because of the low delivery rate, and the matron explained that it provides the opportunity for fathers to be more educated and involved in every stage of the process, including gaining an appreciation for breastfeeding.

“I really didn’t know that there were so many benefits of breastfeeding. The hospital opened my eyes first, and then I started to do my research. During the stay of my babymom, they went through some brochures with me ... ,” Thompson said. “The more relaxed she is, the more the milk flows. I try my best to give some massage or a pep talk and I make sure she eats right.”

Yesterday, Lionel Town Hospital, Port Antonio Hospital in Portland, and St Mary’s Port Maria Hospital were certified baby-friendly.

The National Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative was launched in 1991 and seeks to transform healthcare facilities through the implementation of the 10 steps to successful breastfeeding and end the distribution of breastmilk substitutes in these institutions.

Having aligned with standards agreed on by the World Health Organization and UNICEF, the insititutions were saluted yesterday.

They join Princess Margaret Hospital and Alexandria Community Hospital, which were certified in 2015 and 2018, respectively.

Eighteen of Jamaica’s 23 public hospitals remain uncertified in this area.

In his keynote address, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton said that 14 other hospitals are currently working to achieve the standard of certification.

Dedicated for breastfeeding

He said that over the years, there have been concerns about how parents are catered to at the Bustamante Hospital for Children, as there is no space dedicated for mothers to breastfeed.

“Caring, even in that time of distress, sometimes requires privacy ... . In the not-too-distant future, I’ll be announcing a programme that will see some infrastructure upgrades at Bustamante Hospital for Children to facilitate the parents as they take care of their children,” Tufton said.

The National Infant and Young Child Feeding Network was also launched during the certification ceremony, and there are currently 38 support groups across the island.

The Manchester Health Department was awarded for excellence in the implementation of support groups. The department established 11 groups overall, with at least one being in every health district.

Patrina Rowe, a 23-year-old mother and member of the Edna Manley Support Group in Grants Pen, St Andrew, said the initiative has been beneficial.

“They encourage me to breastfeed because it doesn’t cost me anything – zero dollars, zero cents – and they teach me that the formula is not a good thing because it can’t fight off certain sickness,” she explained.

Rowe said that getting her daughter to latch on to the breast was not difficult, and even if she were to have challenges, she had the support of hospital staff who looked out for her as a first-time mother.

10 steps to becoming a baby-friendly hospital

1. Hospital policies – Making breastfeeding a standard practice; not promoting infant formula, bottles or teats;

2. Staff competency – Training staff to support breastfeeding mothers;

3. Antenatal care – Discussing the importance of breastfeeding for babies and mothers; preparing women to feed their baby;

4. Care right after birth – Encouraging skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby soon after birth;

5. Support mothers with breastfeeding – Checking positioning, attachment and suckling as well as helping mothers with common breastfeeding problems;

6. Supplementing – Giving only breastmilk unless there are medical reasons and helping mothers who want to formula-feed to do so safely;

7. Rooming-in – Letting mothers and babies stay together day and night;

8. Responsive feeding – Helping mothers know when their baby is hungry;

9. Bottles, teats and pacifiers – Counsel mothers on the use and risks of feeding bottles, teats, and pacifiers;

10. Discharge – Referring mothers to community resources for breastfeeding support.