In 2009, Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Hurst-Euless-Bedford began providing Family Centered Maternity Care. The concept encourages mothers and babies to room together in a private suite. With a focus on teaching and family participation, mother and baby receive help with breastfeeding, bonding and education.
"Contrary to popular belief, studies indicate that the mother and the baby both sleep better while rooming together," said Mary Lou Wilson, R.N., director of Women's Services at Texas Health HEB. "Babies cry less, are easier to soothe and sleep more soundly. In addition, babies who room-in with their mother breastfeed sooner, gain more weight and are less likely to develop jaundice."
According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, infants who are breastfed exclusively for the first six months score higher on IQ tests.
There are also benefits for mothers. Women who breastfeed have their milk come in sooner and lose their weight earlier than those who do not. Hospitals providing Family Centered Maternity Care have shown an increase in market share of childbearing families and increases in both patient, physician and nurse satisfaction and employee productivity.
The concept is also one of the 10 steps required to obtain the World Health Organization's Baby-Friendly designation, supported by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Association of Women's Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Third hospital in Texas to be named "Baby Friendly"
We believe in the power of breastfeeding to create healthier, stronger, smarter children. In fact, we are such advocates of breastfeeding that Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Hurst-Euless-Bedford became the third hospital in Texas to earn the "Baby Friendly" designation from the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF. We earned this for going above and beyond in promoting and supporting breastfeeding. For diligently educating our staff. For breastfeeding education. For assisting you with skin-to-skin holding and early breastfeeding within the first hour of birth. For providing rooming-in for you and your baby. For offering the option of a nursery. And for support after you go home. If the WHO and UNICEF consider us a pretty special place to have a baby, we think you will too.
- Skin-to-skin holding
Holding your baby skin to skin soon after birth will help your baby transition to its new environment, and stabilize his/her body temperature, pulse and breathing. Your baby will be placed on your chest and both of you will be covered with a warm blanket. Skin-to-skin holding is a wonderful way to bond with your baby, calm your baby and gently wake your baby for feedings. Don't forget Dad; skin-to-skin holding by Dad provides similar benefits and promotes bonding and attachment.
- Breastfeed your baby early and often
Most babies are more alert soon after they're born. Research demonstrates the importance of early skin-to-skin holding and initiation of breastfeeding. Let your family know the importance of this early interaction with your baby and encourage them to allow some privacy and quiet time after the birth.
- Getting to know your baby and rooming-in
Rooming-in provides the optimal environment for learning about your baby and getting breastfeeding off to a good start. It also allows for supportive, trained nurses to provide education and care at your bedside. Learning how your baby "talks" to you through their behavior is important to your confidence in understanding and caring for your baby when you leave the hospital. Knowing babies are often awake at night, we encourage our new families to take advantage of our designated Nap Time from 1 to 4 p.m. daily and encourage their visitors to come by between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.
- Feed on demand
Breastfeeding can be one of the most rewarding and special times for mother and baby. Getting breastfeeding off to a great start is important. It is best to learn your baby's hunger cues, such as lip smacking, mouth opening and bringing his/her hand to mouth. Feed the baby early and often, whenever he/she shows these signs of hunger. All babies cluster feed, often eating every one to three hours or on average 8-15 times during a 24-hour period. These early frequent feedings help increase you milk supply more quickly. If your baby is sleepy, you may gently wake him/her by unwrapping your baby, holding skin to skin or providing diaper care.
- Night time
It's true! Babies are up more at night after the first few weeks of birth. So it is very helpful for you to have a family member stay overnight to help you with your new baby. It is especially important if you have had a cesarean birth, because you may need extra help.
- Your breastmilk is usually all that your baby needs
It is best to just breastfeed and avoid formula supplements unless recommended by your pediatrician. Your baby's stomach is very small and mother's first milk, colostrum, comes in small concentrated doses to provide just the right balance of food and antibodies in an easy-to-digest form. A full-term baby's stomach is only the size of a marble on day one; it will grow larger everyday. Keeping a count of your baby's wet and dirty diapers is a helpful way to know if he/she is getting enough to eat. Your baby will have some weight loss (yes, LOSS - it is expected that your baby will lose weight after being born), but your baby should be back to birth weight by two weeks. Research has shown many benefits of exclusive breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends, whenever possible, exclusive breastfeeding (no other food or drink) for the first six months and continued breastfeeding through the first year.
- Avoid pacifiers and other artificial nipples until breastfeeding is well-established
Ideally, for three to four weeks it is best to just breastfeed. Early introduction of pacifiers and bottles has been shown to interfere with getting breastfeeding off to a good start. Pacifiers and artificial nipples can alter the way the baby sucks, contribute to sore nipples and interfere with establishing a good milk supply, which is highly dependent on early frequent breastfeeding.
- Let us help
Texas Health HEB is committed to supporting your family's decision to breastfeed. We offer breastfeeding classes for parents. We have inpatient and outpatient Board Certified Lactation Consultants, nurses trained in breastfeeding, available to help you and answer your questions; and a Breastfeeding Support Center where you can rent breast pumps and purchase products that might be helpful.