GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — New parents may notice something different at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital: A pacifier will not be given to their newborn unless it’s requested.
That’s one of the steps the hospital has taken as an accredited member of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.
“We want to stay on the cutting edge of whatever’s going on, and if this is one thing we can do to help moms be successful in breast-feeding, then we’re going to do that,” said Katie McNabnay, senior project specialist of women’s and infant services at Spectrum Health.
Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital is one of the 482 hospitals nationwide that holds the baby friendly designation, which is part of an initiative started in the early 1990s as a partnership between the World Health Organization and UNICEF.
The goal is to get babies breast-feeding. It appears to be working for day-old Levi, who came into the world via cesarean section.
“He took to feeding like a champ. It’s been cool,” said Levi’s mother, Sharayah Weinberger.
That was the goal for Weinberger’s doctors and nurses, who understand that the best steps for baby vary widely from parent to parent and family to family.
“We support moms who bottle-feed too. It’s not about making anyone feel bad. It’s about whatever support this mom needs,” said McNabnay.
“The suck that a baby does at the breast is different than the suck a baby does on a bottle or pacifier. Some babies go back and forth just fine but some don’t. Some get confused and struggle,” explained McNabnay.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends introducing a pacifier after breast-feeding is established because it reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
“This Baby Friendly (designation), it’s ten steps and it lifts all of those barriers that we impose as health care workers,” said McNabnay.
Instead of moving the baby to another room for tests and examination, the baby now goes from the womb right into its mother’s arms.
“I got to do skin-to-skin with him for like an hour and a half before they did anything, which was awesome,” said Weinberger.
Just like a growing child, hospital practices change with more knowledge and evidence. However, a mother’s wishes will be honored.
Spectrum Health Butterworth and Spectrum Health United received their baby friendly designation in October of 2014. They are currently the only Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. accredited hospitals in West Michigan.