Ben Taub Hospital Earns Coveted International Baby-Friendly Designation

Harris Health System’s Ben Taub Hospital has earned the coveted international recognition of Baby-Friendly Hospital, joining a select number of such facilities in Houston and Texas. The designation means the hospital meets or exceeds rigorous guidelines that promote high levels of newborn breastfeeding and mother-baby bonding.

“Ben Taub Hospital is nationally renowned for its outstanding trauma care and has recently garnered additional recognition for its excellence in providing high quality heart and stroke care,” says Matthew Schlueter, chief nursing officer, Ben Taub and Quentin Mease hospitals. “Today, we are pleased to be able to add another top level recognition in the women and children’s department. It’s our community that is the real beneficiary of this designation, as it reflects the tremendous hard work and dedication of our medical and nursing professionals. Our Harris Health staff focus on giving our youngest patients the best start in life, and now, women who choose to breastfeed can do so with confidence and knowing they have continued expert support after their discharge from the hospital.”

Becoming a Baby-Friendly Hospital is a comprehensive process based on meeting multiple evidence-based measures aimed at improving infant and maternal care. The prestigious recognition is based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, a global initiative sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. is the U.S. authority for the program.

“Breastmilk is the ideal nourishment for newborns and breastfeeding provides enormous benefits to both mother and baby. The hospital empowers new mothers to provide this important part of a newborn’s development,” says Dr. Stephanie Deal, pediatrician, Ben Taub Hospital and assistant professor, Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine. “After the implementation of Baby-Friendly policies at Ben Taub, the number of newborns who are exclusively breastfed has skyrocketed. Once a rarity, the exclusively breastfed infant is now the norm in our hospital.”

The Baby-Friendly designation is based on scientific evidence that points to breastmilk and breastfeeding lowering risks for certain diseases and improving health outcomes for both mothers and babies. With the correct information and the right supports in place, under normal circumstances, most women who choose to breastfeed at Ben Taub can successfully achieve their goal. To achieve Baby-Friendly, staff from nursing and clinical services collaborated in the process for more than two and half years.

“Ben Taub Hospital is one of 312 U.S. hospitals designated as Baby-Friendly,” says Michelle Bland, director of nursing, Mother-Baby Unit, Ben Taub Hospital. “Our nursing and medical staffs take pride in helping new moms and their newborns get the best care possible.” 
Erin Biscone, certified nurse midwife, Baylor College of Medicine, echoes similar sentiments and has seen the dramatic increase of breastfeeding at Ben Taub Hospital.

“Now, it’s rare to see a mother giving formula,” she says. “New mothers at the hospital have confidence knowing their milk is perfect for their babies, and that they do have enough. The change is dramatic, and it makes me incredibly proud to be a part of the caring and dedicated inter-professional team at Ben Taub Hospital.”

The work of Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. and its implementation of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative in the United States is founded on the fact that human milk fed through the mother’s own breast is the most normal way for human infants to be nourished.  Breastfeeding is the natural biological conclusion to pregnancy and an important mechanism for the continued normal development of the infant.

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