Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, one of the nation’s premier facilities for women’s, fetal and newborn health, has been designated as a Baby-Friendly birth facility by Baby-Friendly USA.
The prestigious international award recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer breastfeeding mothers and their babies an optimal level of care by providing the information, confidence and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies.
“At Texas Children’s, we are driven by outcomes. The evidence is overwhelming that mother’s milk is absolutely the best nutrition a baby can have and that breastfeeding has numerous benefits for the mother as well, so it was a priority for us to implement a system that offers mothers outstanding breastfeeding education, instruction and support,” said Nancy Hurst, PhD, RN, IBCLC and director of women’s support services at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women.
In addition to breastfeeding education, instruction and support, Texas Children’s Hospital has long focused on the importance of breast milk for infants. The hospital has had Lactation and Milk Bank services since 1984 and in 2009 implemented a protocol of feeding 100 percent breast milk to babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) weighing less than 3.3 pounds.
That was achieved by providing pasteurized donor breast milk when mother’s own milk was not available. Studies have shown that premature infants who are exclusively fed human breast milk have lower incidences of developing an often fatal intestinal infection called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and other complications. Since implementing this feeding protocol, the NEC rates in Texas Children’s NICU have decreased from the national average of 8 to 10 percent to just 2 to 4 percent.
In 2011, Texas Children’s launched a donor milk bank program to help provide for the nutritional needs of newborns in the hospital’s NICU and has since collected 227,068 ounces from generous breastfeeding mothers in the community.