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Hospital’s Golden Bow Award recognizes health benefits of breastfeeding

Put a Golden Bow on it, it’s official: Onslow Memorial Hospital (OMH) has been recognized by the North Carolina Breastfeeding Coalition (NCBC) for no longer distributing commercial infant formula gift bags to new moms.

It may seem like a small move, but its effects are far-reaching. When a hospital takes a stand to “ban the bags” by formula manufacturers, the message is clear: breastfeeding is best for baby.

“Multiple studies show that when breastfeeding mothers are given commercial companies’ marketing bags, they are more likely to start using formula – even if the formula samples have been removed from the bags,” states the NCBC.

“The hospital is excited to receive the NCBC’s Golden Bow Award,” says Angela Pollock, Director of Women’s and Children’s Services. “Laurie Gaudino and Alison Welch-Hurd, our lactation consultants, have worked very hard with the staff and the providers to increase our breastfeeding numbers.”

In early 2016, only 40-50% of the mothers who delivered at OMH and expressed interest in breastfeeding said they would continue the practice at discharge. By the end of 2017, over 80% of mothers who expressed interest in breastfeeding left the hospital committed and confident in their ability to continue.

While OMH respects each mother’s choice, and recognizes that in some medical situations a mother should not breastfeed, the hospital supports breastfeeding as the norm and the healthiest choice for babies. (A 24-hour supply of infant formula is given at discharge only if it is left over formula from the baby’s cart and/or if it is medically indicated by the infant’s healthcare provider.)

The statewide effort to educate mothers about the superiority of breast milk over commercial formula has decades of research behind it. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first 6 months.

The AAP “continues to support the unequivocal evidence that breastfeeding protects against a variety of diseases and conditions in the infant,” as well as imparting maternal health benefits, including decreased risks of breast and ovarian cancers.

However, a balanced view is important. Claire McCarthy, MD, of Harvard Health Publishing, recently wrote, “Breast is best — we pediatricians say this all the time, because it’s true. [But] as we encourage breastfeeding, we need to be careful to keep the big picture in mind. In fact, sometimes [formula] can be a tool to support breastfeeding.” https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog

“Some babies take right to breastfeeding, and other babies do not,” explains Sharon Autry, Assistant Nurse Manager. “Laurie and Alison are fabulous at teaching new moms how to breastfeed, addressing all their concerns, and helping them to feel confident when they leave the hospital.”

For Laurie Gaudino and Alison Welch-Hurd, teaching new moms to breastfeed is a passion.

"We’re so pleased we’re able to educate and support our Onslow families in reaching their breastfeeding goals,” says Alison. “It’s really gratifying to see breast milk becoming the ‘food of choice’ for more and more OMH babies!”

“Breast milk is the perfect food,” adds Laurie. “Each mother’s milk is made for her baby. Whatever she is exposed to, she makes the antibodies for her baby, and as the baby grows, the breast milk changes to meet the growth needs of that child. It’s just amazing.”

Regardless of whether a new mom chooses to breastfeed exclusively, supplement with formula, or feed only formula, the hospital is dedicated to making sure every baby receives the highest level of care and attention, and every mom is supported and encouraged.