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Article Type: News

Shawnee Mission Medical Center Earns Baby-Friendly Designation

Shawnee Mission Medical Center has earned the Baby-Friendly Designation from Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. The accreditation certifies that a hospital adheres to a set of evidence-based practices shown to support mothers and babies on their breastfeeding journeys.

"We have a long history of providing an environment that supports breastfeeding," said Raimonda King, administrative director of the Birth Center and Children's Services at Shawnee Mission Health. "We've worked hard to uphold these best practices, and were proud to have the work of our Birth Center doctors, nurses and staff recognized by Baby-Friendly USA."

One of the most effective preventive measures a mother can take to protect the health of her infant and herself is to breastfeed. Most mothers are choosing to breastfeed, but 60 percent stop breastfeeding sooner than they planned, and only 1 in 4 infants is exclusively breastfed by the time they are six months old.

"Hospital practices in the first hours and days after birth make a big impact on how long babies are breastfed," said Michelle Sanders, lactation program coordinator. "The Baby-Friendly designation signifies Shawnee Mission Birth Center's commitment to supporting mothers and providing family-centered care."

Sanders stressed that Baby-Friendly hospitals do not compel mothers to breastfeed if it is not their intention. Rather, they provide families the information and support needed to achieve their infant feeding goals. 

SMH received the designation following a multi-year effort of training staff, changing practices, educating parents and revising policies to ensure SMH provides maternity care that delivers optimal infant feeding outcomes and mother/baby bonding. SMH completed four phases of the pathway to receive this designation, including:

  • Implementation of the Guidelines and Evaluation Criteria;
  • Verification of policies, curriculum, action plans, quality improvement projects, staff training, and competency verification;
  • Completion of a readiness interview; and
  • Passing a rigorous on-site assessment.

About Baby-Friendly USA

Baby-Friendly USA, Inc is the U.S. authority for the implementation of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies. Based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, this prestigious international award recognizes birth facilities that offer breastfeeding mothers the information, confidence, and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies.

There are more than 20,000 designated Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers worldwide. Currently there are 487 active Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers in the United States. The Baby-Friendly designation is given after a rigorous on-site survey is completed. The award is maintained by continuing to practice the Ten Steps as demonstrated by quality processes.