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OCH Becomes Only Hospital in State to be Recognized for Breastfeeding Excellence

The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners® (IBLCE®) and International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) have recognized OCH Regional Medical Center for excellence in lactation care.

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OCH Perinatal Educator Paula Hamilton, RN, IBCLC, talks to breastfeeding mothers at a recent Mother to Mother support group at the Medical Center. The group meets the second Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m.

The Medical Center is the only hospital in Mississippi to received the IBCLC Care Award in recognition for staffing professionals who hold the prestigious International Board Certified Lactation Consultantcertification (IBCLC®) and providing a lactation program that is available 5-7 days a week for breastfeeding families. In addition, the facility demonstrated that is has provided recent breastfeeding training for medical staff that care for new families, and has recently completed activities that help protect, promote, and support breastfeeding.

According to Liz Brooks, President of ILCA, “Breastfeeding rates are on the rise today so the need for breastfeeding experts has also increased.” “Breastfeeding is natural and often works quite well without intervention, but there can be complications or risk factors so mothers also need extra support. An IBCLC is a trained expert with clinical skill who works with the entire health care team so that a mother’s breastfeeding goals can be met,” explained Brooks.

OCH staffs more than 40 registered nurses in the nursery, labor & delivery and postpartum units who have been trained as breastfeeding educators, as well as two certified lactation counselors and two International Board Certified Lactation Consultants.

“Increasing breastfeeding rates is important and an ongoing goal for the nursery and our lactation services,” stated nurse manager Karen Tiffin, RN. “Help for breastfeeding mothers is available at our hospital 24/7, and we also offer one-on-one assistance to the new breastfeeding mom,” she added.

Recipients of the award focus on preventive care, so they are available during pregnancy to assess the mother and provide information on how to successfully initiate breastfeeding. They continue that assistance after the baby is born by helping mothers overcome breastfeeding challenges, providing accurate information, and continuing to support them as their baby grows. They assist mothers returning to work or school, help mothers in more unusual situations such as breastfeeding more than one baby or nursing a sick or premature infant, and help train nursing staff to manage basic breastfeeding care.

To be eligible for the award, a facility must have a qualifying project in the two years prior to award application. OCH’s project was the Mother-to-Mother breastfeeding support group created by OCH Perinatal Educator and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Paula Hamilton, RN, IBCLC.

“I have seen a growing need for a group of this nature at OCH to encourage moms to seek help when needed,” stated Hamilton. “A major goal of the breastfeeding support group is to increase initiation and duration rates of breastfeeding in the seven counties that OCH serves, and I believe we can achieve that by reaching out to these mothers,” explained Hamilton.

OCH Chief Nursing Officer, Martha Fulcher, DNP, MSN, RNC, was the first lactation consultant at the Medical Center and started the facility’s “Breast Is Best” breastfeeding class as well as opened the breastfeeding gift shop.

“As I learned more about breastfeeding and its benefits, I made a commitment that our staff would be educated to offer their expertise to help new moms provide the best for their babies,” stated Fulcher. “I’m so proud that we’ve won this award because I feel like this is just my dream expanding,” added Fulcher.

The Medical Center has also received the Breastfeeding Gold Standard Award and houses the OCH Lactation Clinic in affiliation with the State Department of Health WIC Program. In addition, OCH has breast pumps for rent and for sale, as well as a myriad of other breastfeeding supplies.

The Mother-to-Mother support group meets the second Tuesday of each month in the OCH Community Room at 5:30 p.m. Babies and siblings are welcome! For more information about this group or lactation services at OCH, visit the “maternity” section on och.org and look under “our services.”

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