Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center takes the lead in providing breastfeeding support and education to new moms

Every parent wants to give his or her child the best start in life. The Birth Center at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center is honored to be part of that journey for more than 5,000 families each year, and is taking a journey of its own: to become one of the first “babyfriendly” hospitals in Maryland.

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative from the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund is considered the gold standard of care. The designation recognizes hospitals that provide extensive support for and encouragement of breastfeeding. Hospitals must follow 10 steps to become baby-friendly, including:

  • Helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  • Practicing “rooming in” (keeping mothers and infants together 24 hours a day).
  • Training all health care staff in the skills necessary to implement the breastfeeding policy.

Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center also offers daily breastfeeding classes and support groups for new mothers in the hospital. Once they go home, moms can access a free phone assistance line (240-826-MOMS) and a free weekly breastfeeding support group. All of these resources are staffed by lactation consultants who have earned the prestigious International Board of Lactation Consultants Care Award.

“Research shows breastfed babies have a lower risk of SIDS [sudden infant death syndrome], diabetes, respiratory and ear infections, skin allergies and obesity,” says Jim Rost, MD, medical director of pediatrics/neonatal intensive care at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center. “Additionally, moms who breastfeed experience decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers and increased weight loss.”

Explains Terry Francis, RN, director of perinatal services at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center: “However a mom chooses to feed her baby, our expert team of physicians, nurses and lactation consultants work with families to provide exceptional education and assistance both in the hospital and after they return home.”

A ‘Mother-Friendly’ Approach to Childbirth

“Birthing is a normal, healthy process,” says Miriam Rieger, clinical nurse manager of labor and delivery, when explaining the “mother-friendly” approach to childbirth practiced by nurses and physicians at Washington Adventist Hospital. The team uses an evidence-based model that empowers the mother and enhances confidence in her ability to give birth.

Philosophical cornerstones of the mother-friendly approach include:

  • Women and babies have the inherent wisdom necessary for birth.
  • Every woman should have the opportunity to give birth as she wishes in a nurturing and secure environment.
  • Interventions will only happen when necessary during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period.
  • Maternity care should be based solely on the needs of mother and child, not on the needs of the care provider.

Visit to learn more about childbirth at Washington Adventist Hospital.