CDH Childbirth Center Takes Baby Steps Toward Initiative

NORTHAMPTON — Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s Childbirth Center has received a certificate of intent from the UNICEF/World Health Organization Baby-Friendly USA Hospital initiative. Receiving this document is a first step in Cooley Dickinson’s application process toward becoming certified as a Baby-Friendly Hospital, according to the organization’s 10-step process.

Paula Mattson, international board certified lactation consultant and the hospital’s liaison to the Baby-Friendly initiative, said the receipt of the certificate indicates that “Cooley Dickinson has joined other pioneering birth facilities in setting standards of excellence for assisting pregnant women and new mothers with breastfeeding.”

While the certificate recognizes Cooley Dickinson’s commitment to breastfeeding and to the completion of the first phase of the application process, additional steps such as nurse and physician training need to occur before the Childbirth Center can promote itself as a Baby-Friendly Hospital, said Mattson. Boston Medical Center is the only Massachusetts hospital that has met all standards of the Baby-Friendly USA Hospital Initiative.

The certificate of intent lauds Cooley Dickinson Hospital for its “sincere commitment to promote, support, and protect breastfeeding by striving to implement the 10 steps to successful breastfeeding of the UNICEF/WHO Baby-Friendly Hospital initiative.” Mattson said Cooley Dickinson employees are working toward those steps, which, according to the UNICEF/WHO, include:

  • Maintaining a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff;
  • Training all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy;
  • Informing all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding;
  • Helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth;
  • Showing mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants;
  • Giving breastfeeding infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated;
  • Practicing ‘rooming in’— allowing mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day;
  • Encouraging unrestricted breastfeeding;
  • Giving no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants; and
  • Fostering the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.

“We have one of the highest rates of breastfeeding in the Pioneer Valley,” said Mattson, noting that more than 80{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of mothers choose breastfeeding over bottle feeding. “While we may encourage breastfeeding based on the literature, we also respect the wishes of all of our new moms and families, and provide choices.”

Mattson said she and the Childbirth Center provider team are making strides in completing the next phase of the process toward becoming fully certified as a Baby-Friendly USA Hospital.