Family Birthplace:
Baby Friendly Designation

Franciscan Healthcare in La Crosse was designated a "baby-friendly hospital" in November 2008.

The Family Birthplace at Mayo Clinic Health System Franciscan Healthcare in La Crosse, has received international recognition as a Baby-Friendly birth facility. Baby-Friendly USA is the U.S. authority for the achievement of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF). The program encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer comprehensive care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies.

Baby Friendly recommends standards of care that ensure that families receive correct, current information to help them choose a method for feeding their baby, said Bethany Padesky, Lactation Consultant. When parents decide to breastfeed, Franciscan Healthcare staff is able to competently and compassionately provide information, encouragement, support and assistance before, during and after the birth of the baby.

Based on Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, this prestigious international award recognizes birth facilities that offer mothers the information, confidence, and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies.

Padesky notes the journey to Baby Friendly has challenged Family Birthplace to refine hospital services and practice standards that are a vital link between what a mother learns prior to and after the birth of her baby. Franciscan Healthcare has met this challenge and, as a result, is better able to meet the needs of all families, however they choose to feed their baby, Padesky said.

Franciscan Healthcare is the sixth hospital in Wisconsin, and the 70th nationally, to be designated as Baby-Friendly. The Baby-Friendly designation was given after a rigorous on-site survey was completed, and is maintained by continuing to practice the Ten Steps as demonstrated by quality processes:

  • Maintain a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all healthcare staff.
  • Train all healthcare staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
  • Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  • Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  • Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
  • Give infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
  • Practice rooming in--allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
  • Encourage unrestricted breastfeeding.
  • Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
  • Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.

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