Indiana hospitals use $3M grant to become 'baby-friendly'

A $3 million Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant will help Indiana hospitals become more "baby-friendly" by encouraging breastfeeding to combat childhood obesity in the area, the Evansville Courier & Press reports.

Deaconess Women's Hospital and St. Mary's Hospital for Women and Children, both based in Evansville, Ind., are trying to earn the "Baby-Friendly Hospital" designation by this time next year, the newspaper reports. The initiative is funded in part by a $3 million Community Transformation Grant awarded to Evansville by the CDC to combat childhood obesity. According to the CDC, research shows that increased breastfeeding reduces the risk of a baby eventually becoming an overweight child.

The hospitals also are taking further steps to earn the designation by, for example, placing more emphasis on rooming-in, or keeping the baby in the mother's hospital room for the entirety of their stay. Janice Hatler, Deaconess' Baby-Friendly co-coordinator, told the Courier & Press that rooming-in both helps mothers sleep better and gives them an opportunity to become acclimated to their babies' feeding behaviors.

Another prong of the initiative is immediate skin-to-skin contact--that is, the naked baby directly against the mother's chest--for vaginal births. Skin-to-skin contact stabilizes body temperature, regulates heart and respiratory rates and familiarizes babies with feeding.

To help ensure the initiative goes smoothly, the Courier & Press reports the two hospitals are increasing training, providing 20 hours to any nurse who has high contact with new mothers and infants, three hours to physicians and five hours to all staff, from clinical to support, who have any contact with mothers and babies.

Other hospitals in Texas are taking similar steps to become more baby-friendly, including closing nurseries and phasing out pacifiers, according to North Texas' CBSDFW.

Pacifiers "interfere in the beginning with breastfeeding sometimes," Theresa Patton, M.D., of the 515-bed Methodist Dallas Medical Center told CBSDFW. "Pacifiers are gone from general use. They are used for painful procedures, so if an infant has a circumcision or something like that we use pacifiers periodically for that reason." Methodist also emphasizes skin-to-skin contact and requires rooming-in.

For more:
- here's the Courier & Press article
- here's the CBSDFW article