Cape Coral Hospital’s Family Birth Suites have been the first in the state to receive the first, second and third stars in the Florida Quest for Quality Maternity Care Award by creating action plans to improve the quality of care and support for mothers and babies giving birth within the health system. A Baby Steps to Baby-Friendly task force was formed with members from physician and nursing staff to develop a new policy addressing the needs of the breastfeeding infant and mother.
“Not only has the Birthing Suites team met the challenges of receiving this recognition, they have been the first in the state to complete each level, setting an example for other hospitals,” says Wendy Piascik, Vice President of Patient Care Services for Cape Coral Hospital. “We want to support mothers and encourage them to maximize breastfeeding benefits by continuing for as long as possible. We are proud of the initiative the team has taken to support women in their decision to breastfeed.”
The Florida Breastfeeding Coalition, Inc. designed the quality improvement award based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and the Baby Friendly USA 4-D Pathway. Hospitals are awarded a star as they achieve each of the five phases in the WHO/UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative. Cape Coral Hospital, which delivers over 1500 babies a year, previously achieved its “one star” recognition in October of 2012, and a second star in April, 2013.
This project targets using hospital policy as a strategy to reduce obesity and other chronic diseases by improving optimal infant feeding practices through implementing evidence-based maternity care. According to the CDC, for women who intend to breastfeed, the hospital experience is critical, and to give infants the best start in achieving a healthy life, including reduced obesity, mothers must be supported immediately after birth to establish breastfeeding.
More mothers in Florida are choosing to breastfeed their newborns but few breastfeed long enough to gain the maximum benefits for both mother and infant. According to the CDC National Immunization Survey, 77% of mothers in Florida choose to breastfeed their babies but less than 13% continue to breastfeed exclusively to the recommended 6 months.
Studies published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) indicate that hospitals practicing evidence-based maternity care, as outlined by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Ten Steps have more patients breastfeeding in the hospital with longer durations outside of the hospital.