It’s fair to say that by nature, all hospitals are friendly to babies. However, not not all hospitals are internationally recognized as being Baby-Friendly, which both UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central and Memorial North in Colorado Springs just became.
Dola Handley is the Director of Maternal and Child Services for both hospitals, which deliver more than 4,600 babies a year — the most in Colorado.
Of becoming internationally recognized as Baby-Friendly Dola says, “It took us several years to actually attain Baby-Friendly because it’s not just a piece of paper or a plaque you hang on the wall; it’s something you do every day, it’s something you live.”
Of the thousands of hospitals in the United States of those, only about 525 are certified as Baby-Friendly. To earn the designation all 205 mom-baby nurses at Memorial went through 20 hours of classroom education and four hours of hands-on training.
Dola explains, “The hands-on portion really helps us go with a lactation consultant, who are specialists. They spend 2,000 hours (training) before they can even sit for their international board certification. We have several of them on staff and they help train us on how we can best support the moms and breastfeeding.”
Being Baby-Friendly also focuses on teaching and emphasizing skin-to-skin contact with baby and both Mom and Dad. While there is also an emphasis on teaching the many benefits of breastfeeding, the ultimate goal is putting Mom at ease no matter what her feeding choice is.
Dola says, “We want them to know that we are supporting them in whatever decision they make to feed their baby. Either in breastfeeding, or pumping and breast milk feeding, or formula feeding. It’s all about making sure that your baby gets the right nutrition and is off to the best start. We really care about the health of our families because that’s why we are here, this is what we do.”