Doylestown Health's VIA Maternity Center was recently named a Keystone 10 Designated facility for its efforts to educate and support breastfeeding mothers and promote the health of new moms and babies.
"Breastfeeding has benefits for both mom and baby and is important for long-term health," notes VIA Maternity Center Keystone 10 Coordinator Jean Krauss, RN, BSN, IBCLC. "We provide support for new moms in the hospital and after they go home."
Keystone 10 is a quality improvement initiative that promotes and supports breastfeeding for all Pennsylvania infants and mothers. Modeled after similar programs of the World Health Organization (WHO) and other states, the Pennsylvania Department of Health developed the Keystone 10 Initiative in 2015 to help birthing facilities adopt and implement evidence-based maternity care practices with the goal of improving breastfeeding rates and the health of mothers and babies.
Doylestown Hospital is a proud supporter of breastfeeding with about a 90 percent breastfeeding rate among new mothers.
Prenatal and Childbirth Education
Doylestown Hospital has a long history of offering prenatal education and began offering breastfeeding classes for the community in 1991. With the current pandemic, childbirth education, including breastfeeding classes, has continued virtually. The hospital has had a full-time lactation consultant position since 1999. Board-certified lactation consultants are available 365 days a year.
Since committing to participation in the Keystone 10 program several years ago, Doylestown Hospital implemented mandatory education for all VIA Maternity Center nurses that includes 20 hours of class learning and hands-on training.
In January 2018, the VIA Maternity Center started a Breastfeeding Mothers' Support Group. Popular with new moms, the group met weekly at Doylestown Hospital until the current pandemic. The group continues to meet weekly via the online platform Zoom.
"It’s a place to ask questions and lets us encourage the moms to work through issues," says Jean.
Last July, the VIA Maternity Center started a private breastfeeding mothers Facebook group that provides evidence-based information and allows lactation consultants to answer specific questions.
"Even though breastfeeding is natural, it’s not always easy," adds Jean. "When it’s not going as they expected, some mothers give up. If they can get through the first two weeks, things tend to get easier."
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for about the first 6 months with continued breastfeeding along with introducing appropriate complementary foods for one year or longer. Research has shown benefits of breastfeeding for infants include fewer infections, lower risk of Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and a lower risk of asthma, obesity and Type 1 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Benefits for mothers include lower risk of breast cancer and heart disease, adds Jean.
The VIA Maternity Center encourages skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby as much as possible. Donor breast milk is available to babies in the NICU and well nursery needing medical supplementation. Mothers are encouraged to keep babies in their room to follow feeding cues and increase success of breastfeeding.
"Research has shown the benefits of breastfeeding and these evidence-based steps help us support new mothers. It’s become part of our culture," says Jean. "Health-wise breastfeeding is the optimal choice, but there are things new mothers need help with and that’s what we’re here for."
Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding
Step 1: Have a written infant feeding policy that is routinely communicated to staff and parents.
Step 2: Ensure that staff have sufficient knowledge, competence and skills to support breastfeeding.
Step 3: Discuss the importance and management of breastfeeding with pregnant women and their families.
Step 4: Facilitate immediate and uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact and support mothers to initiate breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth.
Step 5: Support mothers to initiate and maintain breastfeeding and manage common difficulties.
Step 6: Do not provide breastfed newborns any food or fluids other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
Step 7: Enable mothers and their infants to remain together and to practice rooming-in 24 hours a day.
Step 8: Support mothers to recognize and respond to their infants’ cues for feeding.
Step 9: Counsel mothers on the use and risks of feeding bottles, teats and pacifiers.
Step 10: Coordinate discharge so that parents and their infants have timely access to ongoing support and care.
Source: WHO (World Health Organization), 2018
About Doylestown Health's VIA Maternity Center
Doylestown Health's VIA Maternity Center is rated among the best in the region for maternity care with services available for every stage of pregnancy through the birth experience. The VIA Maternity Center features a 32-bed maternity unit that includes 9 labor, delivery & recovery rooms, 22 private post-partum rooms, and a Level II NICU staffed by CHOP neonatologists.