Shawnee Mission Medical Center has earned the Baby-Friendly Designation from Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. The accreditation certifies that a hospital adheres to a set of evidence-based practices shown to support mothers and babies on their breastfeeding journeys.
“We have a long history of providing an environment that supports breastfeeding,” said Raimonda King, administrative director of the Birth Center and Children’s Services at Shawnee Mission Health. “We’ve worked hard to uphold these best practices, and we’re proud to have the work of our Birth Center doctors, nurses and staff recognized by Baby-Friendly USA.”
One of the most effective preventive measures a mother can take to protect the health of her infant and herself is to breastfeed. Most mothers are choosing to breastfeed, but 60 percent stop breastfeeding sooner than they planned, and only 1 in 4 infants is exclusively breastfed by the time they are six months old.
“Hospital practices in the first hours and days after birth make a big impact on how long babies are breastfed,” said Michelle Sanders, lactation program coordinator. “The Baby-Friendly designation signifies Shawnee Mission Birth Center’s commitment to supporting mothers and providing family-centered care.”
Sanders stressed that Baby-Friendly hospitals do not compel mothers to breastfeed if it is not their intention. “Rather, we are providing families the information and support needed to achieve their infant feeding goals. This is a wonderful accomplishment for Shawnee Mission Health and the families we serve.”
SMH received the designation following a multiyear effort of training staff, changing practices, educating parents and revising policies to ensure SMH provides maternity care that delivers optimal infant feeding outcomes and mother/baby bonding. SMH completed four phases of the pathway to receive this designation, including implementation of the Guidelines and Evaluation Criteria; verification of policies, curriculum, action plans, quality improvement projects, staff training and competency verification; completion of a readiness interview; and passing a rigorous on-site assessment.