News / Edmonton

Edmonton hospital takes lead on healthy baby strategy

Grey Nuns Hospital unveils Baby-Friendly Initiative designation Wednesday

Melanie Borys and her six-month-old daughter Katerina.

Kevin Tuong / Edmonton Freelance

Melanie Borys and her six-month-old daughter Katerina.

Keeping a newborn close to its mother through the “golden hour” after its birth is a central piece of one Edmonton hospital’s rare baby-friendly designation.

The Grey Nuns Hospital unveiled its Baby-Friendly Initiative Wednesday, honouring five years of work toward supporting breastfeeding moms based on a World Health Organization strategy.

“That first hour, we protect that hour now. It is almost a golden hour to us, where we don’t separate the mom and baby, we don’t do any procedures to that baby,” said Shannon Anderson, a clinical nurse specialist at Grey Nuns.

“Five years ago, zero per cent of our mothers did skin-to-skin at birth. Now we’re at 100 per cent. That was a huge undertaking.”

Anderson took the lead on the Baby-Friendly Initiative in 2012, and the hospital just became the largest in Canada to receive the designation.

The Grey Nuns team went through 10 steps, including a new written policy and 20 hours of training for each staff member.

Part of the policy includes supporting whichever way a parent chooses to feed their baby, though Anderson said 92 per cent of mothers prefer to breastfeed.

“Regardless of whatever you choose to feed your baby, we will support that decision and we will give you all the information and support you need, once you leave our hospital and while you’re here,” she said.

Anderson said nurses do not take babies away from their mothers for any reason unless a baby is suffering serious health concerns and needs to be assessed or sent to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Staff also connect parents with community supports and a resource booklet in case they have difficulties breastfeeding when they leave.

“It’s really about empowering the mom and giving that mom the confidence,” Anderson said.

Melanie Borys gave birth to her daughter after two days of labour in June, and said she learned a lot of valuable information from the the pre-natal classes and the posters and bulletin boards around the hospital.

“Having the information first, being a new mom, was awesome. Because there’s no handbook when you’re a parent,” she said.

“The nurses were fantastic, very comforting, showing me – not just through pictures or diagrams – actually showing me how to breastfeed my daughter properly, what a proper latch looks like, knowing us by name, being able to show different positions of how to breastfeed, talking more about the skin-to-skin that really helped her calm down at first when she was newborn."

The Baby-Friendly Initiative is based on research showing health benefits for mothers and children.

It was developed by WHOA and implemented in Canada by the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada.

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