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The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Medical Center has received prestigious international recognition as a Baby-Friendly birth facility. The award recognizes birth facilities that actively encourage breastfeeding as the primary source of newborn nutrition. UCSD joins 52 U.S. hospitals and birth centers who have achieved the notable status.
UCSD received the award from Baby-Friendly USA, the U.S. authority for implementing the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). UCSD is only the second San Diego County hospital to receive the designation, following Scripps Encinitas.
"We are extremely pleased that UCSD Medical Center has received this important designation," said Richard Liekweg, CEO of UCSD Medical Center. "This is another demonstration of our commitment to providing state-of-the-art but high-touch care for our mothers and their babies. We are very proud of being able to bring this service to the community."
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be breastfed without supplemental foods or liquids the first six months of life. An analysis by the National Institutes of Health showed a 21% lower all-cause infant mortality rate and a reduced risk of SIDS in breastfed babies. Breastfeeding has been shown to protect newborns against many diseases including ear infections, bowel disorders and respiratory illnesses. When babies are born their immature immune systems render them less able to fight illness-causing germs. Breast milk is a baby’s first immunization and provides antibodies which protect a baby from many common diseases by increasing immunity.
The Surgeon General’s Goal for Healthy People 2010 states that 75% of women should breastfeed their newborn infants at hospital discharge. The CDC reports that in San Diego County in 2004 85% of women breastfed at discharge. At UCSD 93% of discharged patients breastfeed their newborn infants.
Ever since Audrey Naylor, M.D. started the worldwide Baby-Friendly movement at UCSD more than 25 years ago when she began teaching nurses and physicians how to educate new mothers on the benefits of breastfeeding, UCSD has made a strong effort to encourage breastfeeding.
Since UCSD initiated Baby-Friendly practices patients have noticed a big difference as well.
“After the birth of my baby under UCSD's new Baby-Friendly approach,” says patient Jennifer Moore, “I felt we were in the center of a quiet circle of respect and support from all staff at UCSD. Lactation consultants and nurses helped me refine my breastfeeding positions and techniques. I was given the same loving care, but was more in charge of what happened to me and my baby. The staff at UCSD understood the balance between hands-on support and allowing me time and space to learn about my new baby. We left the hospital an already bonded family.”
Lisa Stellwagen, M.D., and Corey Anaka, RNC, IBCLC, Coordinator of Lactation Services, spearheaded the UCSD effort. Stellwagen says pursuing the Baby-Friendly designation required UCSD Medical Center to implement changes.
“Practice changes over the last few years such as delaying circumcision, postponing routine bathing and encouraging parents to hold their babies skin-to-skin right after childbirth have led to increased breastfeeding success,” says Stellwagen.
Prior to Baby-Friendly babies born by cesarean section used to be taken from their mothers after birth, evaluated, and taken to the neonatal-intensive care unit (NICU). Now cesarean section babies are placed skin-to-skin with their mothers and do not go to the NICU unless it is medically necessary. Healthy infants at UCSD Medical Center now room-in 24 hours a day with their mothers.
If babies require care in the NICU mothers can breastfeed in the unit at the baby’s bedside. For those NICU babies too premature or otherwise unable to breastfeed, their mothers can pump breast milk for nurses to feed their babies.
Anaka emphasizes the Baby-Friendly designation was made possible through an interdisciplinary effort. “We train all staff to help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth and encourage them to exclusively breastfeed their babies,” says Anaka. She adds that Baby-Friendly discourages pacifiers and bottle use and the hospital agrees not to accept free baby formula or promotional items from the formula manufacturers.
“However, we do purchase infant formula for infants who are not breastfed, have special medical conditions, or need additional supplementation,” she says.
Neil Finer, M.D., UCSD Medical Center Chief of Neonatology points out that the designation has special significance within the University of California community. “We are particularly proud of this milestone.because UCSD Medical Center is the first University of California hospital to receive the designation,” says Finer. “In fact, we are the largest medical facility on the west coast to receive this important designation. We have always been committed to the support of breastfeeding for our mothers and babies and for the use of breast milk as the ideal nutrient for our premature and sick infants.,”
The process for receiving the prestigious designation was neither easy nor expeditious.
“This is extremely exciting for us; it’s been a long time coming,” says Audrey Naylor, M.D., of Wellstart. Naylor’s early efforts eventually grew into a worldwide WHO initiative in 1991. To date more than 19,000 hospitals and birth centers in 125 countries have received Baby-Friendly status.
About UCSD Women and Infant Services
Approximately 3,000 babies are born at UCSD Medical Center every year. UCSD Medical Center provides families with a variety of obstetrical and childbirth options -- more than any other medical center in San Diego. Among the services offered at UCSD Medical Center:
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