Experience of a Lifetime
A Pine Belt family has an enriching childbirth experience at a Baby-Friendly Hospital
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – (January 7, 2016) “People say that it’s more difficult to bond with your baby after a c-section because of the surgery and recovery and everything,” said Jordan Wood, RN, and mother of two. Jordan looks at ease sitting in the plush rocker haloed by the swaths of soft pink in the nursery. She smiles as she looks down at 4-week-old Eleanor and says, “I didn’t feel that way at all especially since I decided to breastfeed. I can continue bonding with her through the first year of her life by nurturing her and being her main source of nutrition.”
Eleanor Wood was born on December 7, 2015 at 7:50 a.m. at Forrest General Hospital, where she never left her parents’ sides. After Jordan’s c-section, she was able to spend some time with her new baby before Eleanor and Jim, Jordan’s husband, went back to the Labor and Delivery room to wait for Jordan. “I got to look at her, and they took her over to dry her off and do all the measurements. At her birth, I got to see all of that. I was in a position where I could just turn my head and watch. It was really a sweet moment; I cried the whole time,” Jordan said.
In the Labor and Delivery room, Jim had the opportunity to spend a few minutes alone with his new daughter. He said, “It was a really special moment. Jordan was still finishing up the surgery so they took me and the baby back to the Labor and Delivery room. It was just us. I was sitting in the chair holding her, rocking her, and talking to her. You know, introducing myself. It was neat getting to have that Dad-daughter experience.”
Eleanor's first hour
Everything with the c-section had gone as planned, and once Jordan’s doctor had finished with her sutures, Jordan joined her family in the Labor and Delivery room. “Right after the staff finished my surgery, I came into the room, and the nurse helped me facilitate skin-to-skin with her,” Jordan said. She continued, “I had to lay flat right after the c-section; they couldn’t let me sit up. Even so, the nurses made it such an easy process. You carry a baby for 9 months, longing to hold her. With skin-to-skin, she seemed so comforted and calm. It was as though she wanted that moment, too.”
Uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby immediately following birth helps initiate breastfeeding as well as lowering separation anxiety among other benefits. This practice is part of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative that Forrest General takes part in, along with only 319 other hospitals nation-wide, and is the first and only officially designated baby-friendly hospital in Mississippi. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Jordan had chosen to breastfeed her first child, Lucy, so she knew that she wanted to have that experience with Eleanor because of the continued bonding and health benefits. She depended on her nurse for some guidance with Eleanor’s first feeding. Jordan still had to remain lying flat because of her c-section, but that was not a problem.
“My nurse positioned Eleanor perfectly so that she could latch with me lying down. Then even through post-partum, people were coming to watch her nurse and make sure we were both comfortable. It wasn’t just about her eating; it was about making sure the whole positioning was good,” Jordan explained.
Family bonding begins at birth
Once everyone was comfortable, the staff left the family alone together for some quiet time after an exciting morning. Jordan said, “Being just the three of us for the first two hours of her life was beautiful. It was one of the greatest and most memorable experiences we’ve ever had. Forrest General did a really good job of fostering intimacy as soon as she was born.”
Throughout Jordan’s stay at Forrest General, Eleanor never left the room. “Her being in the room the whole time made us feel like we were all one patient. Even the hearing test was done in the room. It made us feel at ease; being separated from your baby after you have them is not a relaxing feeling,” Jordan said.
Leaving infants in the room with their mothers through the duration of their hospital stay is called, “rooming in,” and it is another part of the guidelines associated with the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. Rooming in gives mothers a chance to learn and begin responding to their babies’ feeding cues.
The Baby-Friendly experience
In January 2016, Forrest General received prestigious international recognition as a Baby-Friendly Designated birth facility. To achieve this honor, Forrest General met the challenging criteria set forth by Baby-Friendly USA, Inc., the U.S. authority for the implementation of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI).
This means that when a family chooses to have a baby at Forrest General, they can expect an experience similar to the one Jordan describes. Jordan said, “I just think from the moment we got there to the discharge, the whole flow of us being just one unit was consistent the whole time. At Forrest General, it was like they were part of the family. They were just jumping in, hands on, facilitating that intimacy and bond of the family.”
The Baby-Friendly Hospital designation is based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and recognizes birth facilities that offer breastfeeding mothers the information, confidence, and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies.
Anita Henderson, M.D., pediatrician with Hattiesburg Clinic, said, “We love our babies and their families at Forrest General. We are dedicated to helping mothers learn about how they can give their babies the best possible nutrition through breastfeeding and to making the process as easy and stress-free as possible. The criteria to become a Baby Friendly hospital is strict and requires much from our staff, but these babies are worth it.”