DAYTON — All Premier Health maternity facilities – Atrium Medical Center, Miami Valley Hospital, Miami Valley Hospital South, and Upper Valley Medical Center — have achieved re-certification through Ohio First Steps for Healthy Babies, a voluntary statewide breastfeeding initiative launched by the Ohio Department of Health and Ohio Hospital Association to reduce the state’s high infant mortality rate.
In 2017, Premier Health became the first health care system in Ohio whose maternity centers implemented all Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, as defined by the World Health Organization and Baby-Friendly USA, to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding. Each facility’s five-star certification (one star awarded for every two steps achieved) is now good for three years.
“Premier Health remains dedicated to this worthwhile breastfeeding initiate to save lives and provide the best possible care for our patients and their families,” said Marc Belcastro, DO, chief medical officer, Premier Health Southern Region. “Breastfeeding supplies babies with a unique mix of nutrients and has been shown to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, as well as medical conditions such as asthma, allergies, respiratory illness, ear infections, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Benefits for breastfeeding women include help losing pregnancy weight more quickly and reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer.”
The 10 steps promoted by the initiative include informing all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding, showing mothers how to breastfeed, and allowing mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
“This five-star certification validates the work we do across Premier Health to support mothers, infants, and families in choosing the best way to feed their babies,” said Teri Gulker, director of nursing at Upper Valley Medical Center. “It is widely known that breastfeeding lowers mortality, decreases obesity, and promotes bonding between mothers and babies. We proudly strive to meet all of the state’s research-driven, life-saving breastfeeding standards at each of our maternity facilities, because saving one baby is worth it.”
About 61 percent of mothers exclusively breastfed their infants in the days following delivery at Premier Health hospitals in 2016, significantly above the state average rate of 52 percent at hospital discharge.