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Summa Akron City Hospital designated a Baby-Friendly hospital

Summa Akron City’s Maternity Services earned the prestigious Baby-Friendly® designation earlier this month from Baby-Friendly USA, this country’s authority for the implementation of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Baby-Friendly designated hospitals help provide the extra education and support new moms need to successfully breastfeed their babies. The five-year designation comes after a rigorous review of a specific set of evidence-based criteria that are proven to improve breastfeeding success and, ultimately, health outcomes. In total, there are fewer than 300 active Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers across the country. Summa Akron City Hospital is the first hospital in the Akron-Canton area and one of just nine throughout the state of Ohio that holds Baby-Friendly® status.

Based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, this award recognizes birth facilities that offer breastfeeding mothers the information, confidence and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies.

To receive and keep a Baby-Friendly designation, hospitals and birthing centers must:

  1. Have a written breastfeeding policy for all healthcare staff members.
  2. Train all healthcare staff so they have the skills to apply the breastfeeding policy.
  3. Tell all pregnant women about the benefits of breastfeeding.
  4. Help mothers start breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to keep a good milk supply, even if they are separated from their babies.
  6. Give babies no food or drink other than breast milk, unless there is a medical reason.
  7. Practice “rooming in” by allowing mothers and babies to stay together 24 hours a day.
  8. Help mothers breastfeed whenever babies show signs they are hungry.
  9. Give no pacifiers or bottles to breastfeeding babies.
  10. Promote the formation of breastfeeding support groups and tell mothers about them before discharge from the hospital or clinic.

Improving hospital maternity care practices to support women who choose to breastfeed also benefits non-breastfeeding families. Summa Health is also well-known for its skin-to-skin program, “Let’s Stay Together,” where a newborn remains in close contact with the mother for the first hour after birth. Skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth helps regulate body temperature, slows the baby’s heart rate and promotes a smooth transition for babies from the womb to the outside world. Summa is also a major advocate of 24-hour “rooming-in” to reduce separation of mother and newborn after birth. All mothers who choose to deliver their babies at Summa Akron City Hospital will have a special, supportive and unique delivery experience.

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