Breastfeeding gives babies a healthy start

Riverwood’s OB nurses enjoy educating and supporting new mothers with breastfeeding. Pictured, from left, are Beth Ambuehl, Mary Belz and Joanna Brenny.

Research has shown that exclusive breastfeeding for six months is crucial for the health of mothers and infants.

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), launched in 1991, is an effort by UNICEF and the World Health Organization to ensure that all maternities, whether free-standing or in a hospital, become centers of breastfeeding support.

In 2012, Riverwood became only the second hospital in Minnesota to start the process of becoming designated as Baby-Friendly. To support this effort, four Riverwood registered nurses– Beth Ambuehl, Joanna Brenny, Kelli Crowther and Mary Holm–have become certified as lactation consultants. As babies are born at Riverwood, these nurses offer expert help to new mothers on how to breastfeed.

Riverwood now offers breastfeeding education and support led by a lactation consultant on Tuesdays, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. No registration is required. Simply come to the hospital’s birthing center.

In addition, Riverwood follows UNICEF’s “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding”, including informing all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding and helping mothers learn to breastfeed within one half hour of giving birth.

“With more mothers breastfeeding their infants, the ultimate goal is to improve child health,” says Mary Belz, RN, who oversees obstetric nursing care at Riverwood. “We are excited to offer enhanced breastfeeding support to our patients and are looking forward to the final phase of becoming designated as a Baby-Friendly Hospital.”