Aitkin hospital achieves Baby-Friendly designation

Riverwood OB nurses Andrea Barneveld, Beth Ambuehl, Mary Belz & Janae Nistler with Dr. Erik Bostrom, family physician

Riverwood Healthcare Center has received prestigious international recognition as a Baby-Friendly Designated birth facility from Baby-Friendly USA.

“We are proud to have achieved the Baby-Friendly designation,” said Kristine Layne, chief nursing officer at Riverwood. “This means that our hospital adheres to the highest standards of breastfeeding promotion and mother/baby bonding. Our outstanding obstetrics nursing staff has completed many hours of education and training on breastfeeding and mother/baby bonding. Seven of them have become certified lactation consultants. All of our OB nurses are trained in lactation and how to offer Baby-Friendly support to new mothers.”

Lactation support is available during prenatal care, hospitalization and postpartum (after delivery) with certified lactation consultants at all three Riverwood clinics in Aitkin, Garrison and McGregor. Riverwood’s obstetrics staff partners with Aitkin County Health and Human Services to offer breastfeeding assistance to patients after hospital discharge as needed, and works closely with the Northland Breastfeeding Coalition as well.

At Riverwood, mothers and infants are encouraged to “room in” or remain together 24 hours a day while hospitalized to facilitate skin-to-skin contact. This close contact helps the mother pick up cues from the baby on when to breastfeed and stimulates milk production.

Evidence shows that breastfeeding is one the most important things a mother can do for her newborn and herself. Research proves that children who are breastfed have lower risk of disease and overall improved health outcomes.  Women who breastfeed have a reduced risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Those who deliver in a Baby-Friendly hospital also feel more confident in caring for their babies and develop a stronger bond with their babies whether breastfeeding or not.

Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. is the U.S. authority for the implementation of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (“BFHI”), a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund. The initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies. Based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, this prestigious international award recognizes birth facilities that offer breastfeeding mothers the information, confidence, and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies.

There are more than 20,000 designated Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers worldwide. Riverwood is among only 11 Baby-Friendly hospitals in Minnesota. Currently, there are 445 active Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers in the United States.

The “Baby-Friendly” designation is given after a rigorous on-site survey is completed. The award is maintained by continuing to practice the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding as demonstrated by quality processes.