A federal survey ranked UVA Medical Center in the top 5 percent of hospitals nationally for its support of breastfeeding.
UVA ranked in the 95 th percentile in a survey of 2,666 hospitals conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). UVA’s overall score on the Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care survey was 95 out of 100, compared with an average score of 76 among Virginia hospitals and an average score of 75 nationally.
Ann Kellams, MD, medical director of Well Newborn and Breastfeeding Medicine Services at UVA Children’s Hospital, credits the results to leadership support and teamwork among staff throughout the hospital as well as the departments of obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics and family medicine.
“We have made major changes to ensure that every mother has the best chance of reaching her feeding goal and that mothers and babies have the smoothest transition possible both after birth and when they go home,” she said.
The survey evaluates the policies, staff training and practices that support new mothers and babies in breastfeeding. They include providing:
An initial breastfeeding opportunity shortly after birth. Advice and counseling on breastfeeding to new mothers. Breastfeeding support after mothers and babies are discharged from the hospital. Regular staff training on how to educate and support new mothers with breastfeeding.
Experts recommend exclusive breastfeeding for infants in their first six months because of the multiple health benefits for both babies and mothers. For example, breastfeeding reduces infant mortality and optimally supports neurodevelopment in newborns while also decreasing infants’ risk of becoming obese later in childhood. Breastfeeding also reduces the risks of breast and ovarian cancers as well as diabetes for new mothers.