MCHS Center for Women & Infants
by Candy Powell BSN, RN, IBCLC, RLC
Lactation Consultant with MCH Center for Women & Infants
Medical Center Hospital Center for Women & Infants recently received redesignation as a Texas Ten Step facility through 2018. Medical Center Hospital has been a Texas Ten Step facility for over 15 years.
The Department of State Health Services (DSHS), in collaboration with the Texas Hospital Association, developed the Texas Ten Step Program in 1999 as a method to improve maternity care practices in birthing facilities. Policy development, education of staff and provision of discharge resources for breastfeeding mothers are key initiatives of the program.
Endorsed by the Texas Medical Association, the program is based on the World Health Organization (WHO)/United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, a bundle of evidence-based practices proven to increase breastfeeding exclusivity and duration and reduce racial and ethnic disparities.
The long-term benefits of breastfeeding for babies and mothers are undisputed. Breastfeeding is linked to decreased risk for infant illness and mortality. It is also associated with reduced risk for maternal illness.
Practices that delay or interrupt the first breastfeed, that cause separation of babies and mothers or that result in formula supplementation of breastfed babies make it difficult for mothers and babies to successfully breastfeed. Hospitals’ support of mothers who wish to remain in close contact with their infants and to feed them only breastmilk helps to ensure successful breastfeeding from the start, with continued exclusive breastfeeding once they go home.
MCH has two very important practices that support breastfeeding:
- skin-to-skin for baby and mom immediately after delivery
- “rooming in” where baby remains in the room with mom throughout their hospital stay
Our policies reflect the importance of supporting breastfeeding through the care that we provide to our mothers and infants.
A multicenter, randomized control study found that babies born in hospitals whose policies promoted exclusive breastfeeding were significantly more likely to be exclusively breastfed at six months. Other studies confirm that evidence-based maternity practices, including “Baby-Friendly” hospital standards, improve mothers’ chances of achieving their breastfeeding goals.
Although breastfeeding is natural for mother and baby, it also requires a set of skills that need to be learned. Birthing facilities are best positioned to foster skill development and nurture breastfeeding behaviors during this critical period for successful establishment of lactation.
It is well-documented that maternity practices in infant nutrition and care have a significant impact on a mother’s initiation and continuation of breastfeeding. This means that Medical Center Hospital plays an important role in the health outcomes of babies born in our facility and enhance the health and patient satisfaction of our patients.
As the number of women who intend to breastfeed rises, families are seeking hospitals that support and encourage their efforts to breastfeed. MCH Center for Women & Infants is the only hospital in this area that is designated as a Texas Ten Step member. We recently completed a year-long collaborative with other Texas hospitals to improve our breastfeeding practices. The Texas Breastfeeding Learning Collaborative was done in conjunction with Texas WIC and the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality (NICHQ) throughout the state of Texas. We shared, learned and created new ways to support and promote breastfeeding in our facilities. We are very proud of the work done and of the results that will benefit our patients for years to come.