North Adams Regional Hospital Recognized for Breastfeeding Training

NORTH ADAMS — North Adams Regional Hospital has been recognized by the Mass. Department of Public Health for the hospital’s breastfeeding training opportunities for staff. The 2011 Breastfeeding Achievement Award was announced at the Mass. Breastfeeding Coalition’s annual conference in October in Waltham.

NARH offers a full lactation-counseling service for new mothers in conjunction with Berkshire Nursing Families. The hospital employs two lactation counselors, Rosalie Girard and Rebecca Banister. Together they provide one-on-one lactation counseling for new mothers seven days a week.

The Breastfeeding Achievement Award was given for Girard’s staff-education project that involved posters covering such topics as the American Academy of Pediatricians’ recommendations for birth-center breastfeeding support, utilizing instinctive post-birth infant behaviors to optimize breastfeeding success, and understanding the Centers for Disease Control MPINC survey that assesses level of breastfeeding support provided by hospitals.

“The posters were hung in strategic locations on NARH’s Birthing Center, where they were easily seen by staff — specifically, the staff restrooms,” said Girard. “We found that was a very effective place to use the posters, and it really worked.”

On average, 75{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of mothers who deliver at North Adams Regional Hospital start breastfeeding their infants, slightly higher than the national average.  At six months, 50{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of those mothers are still breastfeeding, well above the national average of 44{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5}.

Girard and Banister collaborate closely with Berkshire Nursing Families to ensure families receive a comprehensive array of services, including a breastfeeding class coordinated with the bimonthly Childbirth Education Series; an outpatient lactation clinic for families who have breastfeeding difficulties after they discharge; weekly playgroups to support breastfeeding mothers on Tuesdays; the Teen to 23 Project, an age-specific childbirth class and playgroup for young families on Thursdays; and telephone, e-mail, and text follow-up for families seven days a week.