Centra Virginia Baptist is region’s first Baby Friendly® hospital

Published 8:29 am Thursday, August 20, 2015

LYNCHBURG — Centra Virginia Baptist Hospital in Lynchburg was recently named the region’s first Baby Friendly® hospital. Awarded by Baby Friendly USA, the coveted designation recognizes the hospital’s efforts in 10 key areas including breastfeeding, rooming-in and skin-to-skin contact, all designed to increase breastfeeding success rates. Centra Virginia Baptist Hospital is one of only four Baby Friendly® designated facilities in Virginia.

“We are honored to receive this designation from Baby Friendly USA,” Carolyn Jacques, vice president of Centra Women and Children’s Services, said. “We started this journey towards Baby Friendly® two years ago knowing this was the right thing to do to enhance breastfeeding rates and promote mother-baby bonding.”

Achieving the Baby Friendly® designation required collaborations with community leaders, physicians and staff, all with an eye towards healthier babies. Research shows breastfeeding benefits babies by lowering the risk for diabetes, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, ear infections, obesity, allergies, asthma and pediatric cancers. Breastfeeding mothers are at a decreased risk for female cancers, osteoporosis and postpartum depression. “The research is clear that breastfeeding leads to healthier babies,” Jacques said. “Being Baby Friendly® is a testament to the nurses, doctors and staff dedicated to caring for moms and babies.”

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The Baby Friendly® initiative encourages breastfeeding to heighten health among babies and mothers. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complimentary foods are introduced for one year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant.

Certified lactation consultants support breastfeeding mothers inside the hospital’s mother baby unit. In addition, Centra offers Baby Café twice a week to provide lactation support, free baby weight checks and peer support from other nursing mothers at the Center for Childbirth and Family Education at Centra Virginia Baptist Hospital.

The hospital embraces skin-to-skin contact immediately after delivery, allowing newborns to spend their first hour on mom’s chest. Skin-to-skin contact enhances bonding, regulates a newborn’s temperature and enhances breastfeeding success. “With skin-to-skin contact, babies are calming down more quickly,” Christine Marraccini, M.D., said. “The first thing the mother wants to do is hold their baby and skin-to-skin contact allows them to enjoy an hour of wonderful bonding with their newborn.”

Centra Virginia Baptist Hospital works closely with local obstetricians and midwives to enhance education and support for Baby Friendly® practices. “Our community can be proud to have one of Virginia’s four Baby Friendly® hospitals,” Peggy Karpenske, RN, manager of Centra Medical Group Women’s Center, which includes certified nurse-midwives, said.

The hospital also promotes rooming-in, which keeps moms and newborns together at the hospital. Statistics show rooming-in reduces a newborn’s crying and encourages better sleep by allowing parents to learn a baby’s sleep cycle and feeding cues. “Our daily mission is providing excellent care for life to mothers and babies,” Jacques said.

Centra offers childbirth and family education classes through the Center for Childbirth and Family Education at Centra Virginia Baptist Hospital. To register for classes or for more information, visit CentraHealthRegister.com or call (434)200.4573.