Empowering Patients through Education and Support

Ascension Seton Medical Center Williamson Inches Closer to Baby-Friendly Designation

Sarah Villarreal, MSN, RNC-OB, IBCLC, Debbie Fowler, MSN, RN, NE-BC, and Tamara Herrera, BSN, RN

Ascension Seton Medical Center Williamson has been on a journey to become the first hospital in Central Texas to earn the coveted Baby Friendly designation Baby Friendly USA, Inc. the accrediting agency in the United States.

Only about 500 hospitals in the United States have this family-friendly designation.

The quest to earn Baby Friendly certification began with Ascension Seton Medical Center Williamson’s Director of Emergency, Trauma and Maternity Services, Debbie Fowler, MSN, RN, NE-BC. Since that time, Ascension Seton Williamson has taken many steps to adhere to a set of evidence-based practices called the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.

“We want to make sure that we are setting our families up for successful breastfeeding in the hospital,” said Sarah Villareal, MSN, RNC-OB, IBCLC, a staff nurse and lactation consultant who has worked in the labor, delivery, recovery and post-partum unit at Ascension Seton Medical Center Williamson for more than seven years.

“I feel very confident that every mom we send home with their baby feels comfortable and competent about breastfeeding and feels like they can do it.” Sarah Villareal, MSN, RNC-OB, IBCLC

According to Sarah, the goal of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative is to increase breast-feeding rates and to make sure that hospitals have implemented policies and practices that support those moms who want to breastfeed. Baby-friendly designation is also heavily focused on empowering all nurses with the knowledge and skills to help new moms successfully breastfeed in the hospital.

Examples of some of the Baby-Friendly practices include ensuring skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby immediately after birth and the first breast-feeding within an hour of delivery. Another practice is keeping mothers and babies together (rooming in). When a mother and baby need to be separated (for example, if a baby needs to be transferred to a NICU), the nursing team at Ascension Seton Medical Center Williamson is ready to help the mother extract and store her milk with a hospital grade breast pump. The hospital has also stopped giving out marketing materials from formula companies, but it does keep formula on hand when desired or needed.

In the coming months, Ascension Seton Medical Center Williamson expects to participate in a readiness interview where Baby Friendly USA, Inc. will evaluate the hospitals’ efforts to meet the designation criteria.

Sarah credits her fellow nurses for bringing the hospital so close to earning this prestigious designation. “Our nurses are awesome and have always been about supporting patients and helping them reach their goals.  For many new moms, their goal is to breastfeed. The nurses on my unit are always eager to learn and get better at what they are doing,” she said.