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VCU Medical Center awarded Baby-Friendly Hospital designation for exceptional maternity care

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Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center is now part of an elite group of hospitals across the country designated Baby-Friendly after meeting rigorous criteria for providing an exceptional level of attention to newborn feeding and mother-baby bonding.

The Baby-Friendly designation, part of a global initiative by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund to promote and support breastfeeding, has been awarded to fewer than 10 percent of U.S. hospitals. VCU Medical Center is the only hospital in Greater Richmond, and one of four organizations in Virginia, to receive this prestigious accreditation.

“Becoming a Baby-Friendly health care organization requires a comprehensive journey of instituting evidence-based maternity care, challenging traditional protocols on newborn feeding and enhancing mother-baby bonding,” said Deborah Zimmerman, D.N.P., chief nursing officer and vice president of patient care services at VCU Medical Center. “The team at VCU Medical Center found the journey exciting, challenging and worth it. Our interprofessional team of clinicians enhanced their expertise, and, most importantly, the result has been the achievement of healthier babies and families.”

Research shows that breastfeeding has many health benefits for both infants and mothers. In addition to the essential mother-baby bonding that begins with skin-to-skin contact, human milk provides the ideal nutrition and mix of vitamins, protein, fat and antibodies necessary for babies to thrive. Studies have also shown that breastfed children have fewer and less serious illnesses, including a reduced risk of SIDS, childhood cancers and diabetes. Mothers who breastfeed have a lowered risk of breast and ovarian cancer and osteoporosis.

VCU Medical Center’s staff works as a team to help mothers establish the closest possible bond with their newborns by supporting them in breastfeeding their newborn. In addition to the hospital’s bedside staff, specially trained in breastfeeding assistance, VCU Medical Center offers the support of lactation consultants available on-site seven days a week. Breastfeeding support also extends beyond the mother’s hospital stay, providing services such as an outpatient lactation clinic, lactation support groups and follow-up phone calls. Prenatal breastfeeding classes are available to expectant parents. A complete schedule of Family Life Education classes is available at VCUmom.com.

About VCU and VCU Medical Center

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see www.vcu.edu.

About the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is a global program that was launched by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother-baby bonding. It recognizes and awards organizations that successfully implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes. The BFHI assists hospitals in giving all mothers the information, confidence and skills necessary to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies, or feeding formula safely, and gives special recognition to hospitals that have done so, according to Baby-Friendly, USA, Inc., which implements the BFHI in the United States.