The Pan American Health Organization has granted the Baby-Friendly designation to the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre (SLBMC) for its exceptional breastfeeding care for mothers and babies.
The announcement was made on Sunday.
The prestigious program, administered by the World Health Organization and UNICEF, provides hospitals with the resources to help mothers successfully breastfeed early in their newborn’s life.
The SLBMC is one of only three hospitals in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to achieve this designation.
The Director of Nursing at SLBMC, Jacqueline JnoBaptiste, said that this designation is a testament to their unwavering commitment to providing mothers with the information, confidence, and support they need to give their babies the best start.
She added that the hospital has a long-standing reputation for excellence in maternal and infant care, dating back to the nation’s first hospital, Holberton.
Over the past year, the hospital has extended antenatal classes to include all expecting parents, equipping them with valuable techniques and evidence-based information on their pregnancy for informed decision-making.
From January to August, the hospital delivered over 500 live babies, including 13 sets of twins, with over 90% of new mothers initiating breastfeeding during their stay. On discharge, 88% of these mothers exclusively breastfed their babies.
The Maternity and Outpatient Clinic Departments’ Nurse Manager, Annmarie Browne-Isaac, said that their nurses’ evidence-based practice change was instrumental in achieving this Baby-Friendly designation.
She also added that the hospital is committed to being mother-friendly and respects every mother’s choice regarding how to feed her baby.
Skin-to-skin or kangaroo care is another essential aspect of Baby-Friendly Hospitals, which enhances mother-infant bonding by placing the baby directly on the mother’s bare chest after birth.
The baby is then covered in a warm blanket, and both mother and baby are left for at least an hour or until after the first feed. From January to August this year, 93% of all moms who gave birth at Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre experienced skin-to-skin contact with their baby right after birth for at least one hour.
SLBMC Pediatric Depart Chair, Dr Shivon Belle-Jarvis, said that breastfeeding and mother-baby bonding can be incredibly effective, and this national milestone will significantly impact the lives of children.
She also added that it will contribute to reducing neonatal mortality and infectious diseases rates while protecting against obesity and other non-communicable diseases, making it a priceless contributor to generational health.
The Ministry’s Chief Nutrition Officer, Samantha Moitt, coordinated the journey to receive the Baby-Friendly Hospital designation.
She expressed her gratitude to the entire SLBMC team and all the partners involved, such as community clinics and breastfeeding support networks.
She added that the hospital’s Baby-Friendly® designation was possible because of the united vision and goal of the diverse team with varying training, priorities, and needs.
The Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Teri-Ann Joseph, congratulated the hardworking healthcare workers on their significant achievement and assured the Ministry’s continued support towards the program.