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Hoping To 'Normalize Breastfeeding,' TMH Receives Baby Friendly Designation

A woman cups a baby's feet in her hands

Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare has received a baby friendly accreditation as part of a worldwide initiative. It’s one of 19 hospitals in Florida with that designation.

A few years ago, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare had a policy of bathing babies within a few hours after birth. Now, Robin Glady with the hospital’s Family Care Unit says that’s not the case anymore.

“We delay the bath, so that baby and mom can do the skin-to-skin and first breastfeeding in labor and delivery,” she said. “Delaying the bath gives babies a path to transition right after delivery. We need to regulate their temperature, their heart rate, and that’s done right up against Mom. So, we delay the bath at least 12 hours here, until we know the baby has fully transitioned to outside life.”

This new change is part of a 10-step “Baby Friendly” process that’s four years in the making.  It’s a global program by the World Health Organization and UNICEF. To get this designation, making a written breastfeeding policy and training health care staff about meeting those needs is key.

Connie Styons is TMH’s Administrator for Women’s & Children’s Services.

She says the hospital is encouraging mothers to breastfeed especially right after the baby is born.

But, while the hospital’s overall goal is to “normalize breastfeeding,” Styons says it’s still the mother’s choice.

“If the mother chooses to formula feed, that is the mother’s choice, after we’ve educated her,. And, so, we’re going to respect that choice,” she said. “And, the care that we provide is based on the mother’s decision whether the mother is formula feeding or breastfeeding.”

Styons says four years ago, TMH’s exclusive breastfeeding rate was at around 32 percent. Now, it’s up to 55 percent, and Styons adds the goal is to get that number higher.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.