Highland working toward Baby-Friendly designation

Published 7:00 am Thursday, March 29, 2018

Highland Community Hospital is currently working towards receiving designation as an official Baby-Friendly Hospital. To that end, Highland hosted two free workshops Wednesday to train nursing staff in the area how to educate new mothers about healthy infant feeding techniques.

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative was started in 1991 by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund in an attempt to raise awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding. Over time, the initiative has grown, with over 20,000 maternity facilities in 150 countries receiving the special designation, the Baby-Friendly USA website states.

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The purpose of the Hospital Initiative, according to the site, is to, “provide an environment in which evidence-based care is provided, education is free from commercial interests and mothers are supported in reaching their infant feeding goals.”

According to the website, there are currently only three hospitals in Mississippi, including Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, that have earned the Baby-Friendly Designation. Forrest General Hospital owns Highland Community Hospital.

Because there are so few in the state, Highland Executive Secretary Misty Toruno, said that the administration is excited to work toward the designation.

The workshops were administered by representatives of Mississippi Community and Hospitals Advancing Maternity Practices, which assists hospitals across Mississippi with receiving their Baby-Friendly designation. A hospital must provide five hours of hands-on clinical competency training to nurses who will be working with infants and their mothers as one requirement for designation.

According to the workshop’s website, each session provided four out of the five necessary hours of training covering, “basic clinical skills supporting breastfeeding, including: counseling skills, skin-to-skin practices, how to breastfeed, hand expression, and safe formula preparation.”

International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Cathy Carothers provided training during the workshop. In each session, Carothers presented information using slides, dolls and other hands-on materials. Throughout the workshop Carothers encouraged participants to join the discussion and share their own personal techniques and experiences.

Nurse Ashley Holloway was very active in the group and offered several suggestions to other nurses about how to discuss potential complications with new mothers.

“There are always things to learn, even if you’ve been doing it for a long time,” she said.

Director of Women’s Services Janelle Imhoff said that there is a four-step process in receiving the designation. Currently, Highland is finishing the second phase and is preparing to move to phase three. Imhoff said that by going through this process, the hospital will become better equipped to provide high-quality support to the community.

While the designation process is extensive, Imhoff said, “I really, truly hope we can complete this within a year.”