SLBMC AWARDED BABY-FRIENDLY TITLE Monday 18th September 2023
Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre (SLBMC) announced today that it has earned the Baby-Friendly® designation from the Pan American Health Organization for achieving some of the highest standards of care for breastfeeding mothers and babies. The program, which is administered by the World Health Organization and UNICEF, supports hospitals in giving mothers information, confidence, and the skills necessary to successfully breast feed in the first days of a newborn’s life. Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre is one of only three hospitals in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to achieve the important designation. This designation is a tribute to our commitment to ensuring that every woman who delivers a baby at our facility is given the resources, information and support needed to help her and her baby get the best, healthiest start in life.
“This milestone builds upon our strong foundation of excellence in maternal and infant care, dating back to Holberton, the nation’s first hospital,” said Jacqueline JnoBaptiste, SLBMC Director of Nursing. “With this new designation, we officially join other Baby-Friendly Hospitals in leading the way to ensure that mothers receive the information and support they need to safely and successfully meet their infant’s nutritional needs.”
It’s been a busy year so far, for births at Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre. From January to August, over 500 live births including 13 sets of twins. Over 90% of new mothers that give birth at Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre initiate breastfeeding during their hospitalization—with 88% being exclusive breastfed on discharge. Over the past year the hospital extended its antenatal classes to include all expecting parents in an effort to equip them with useful techniques and evidence-based information on their pregnancy to ensure they always make informed choices.
“This has truly been a collaborative effort across multiple disciplines, and, in particular, this designation would not have been possible without the evidence-based practice change that our nurses embraced,” said Annmarie Browne-Isaac, SLBMC Departmental Nurse Manager with responsibility for the Maternity and Outpatient Clinic Departments.
“As with all types of care and education, patients and families are at the heart of every practice around infant feeding—So It’s important to note that while the designation is called Baby-Friendly, we are equally committed to being mother-friendly,” she said. “We respect every woman’s choice about how to feed her infant and will do everything possible to support them while they are in our care.”
Another core tenet of Baby-Friendly Hospitals is “skin-to-skin or kangaroo care,” a practice that enhances mother-infant bonding by placing the baby directly on the mother's bare chest after birth, both of them covered in a warm blanket and left for at least an hour or until after the first feed. From January to August this year, under the expert guidance of the maternity care team, an impressive 93% of all moms who gave birth at Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre experienced skin-to-skin contact with their baby right after birth for at least one hour.
“As a pediatrician caring for some of our tiniest babies, it’s always remarkable how something as simple as breastfeeding and the mother-baby bonding, can be so effective, said Dr. Shivon Belle-Jarvis, SLBMC Pediatric Depart Chair. “This national milestone will significantly impact the lives of our children. Not only will it contribute to reducing neonatal mortality, and the rates of infectious diseases but it will also have a protective effect against obesity and other non-communicable diseases. It is a priceless contributor to generational health,” she added.
The Ministry’s Chief Nutrition Officer, Samantha Moitt was the lead coordinator.
“The journey to receive Baby-Friendly Hospital designation has been propelled by the enthusiastic support of the entire SLBMC team and many partners such as our community clinics and breastfeeding support network,” said Moitt. “It was a large and diverse team with different training, priorities, and needs but we had a shared vision and one goal, which is what made the hospital’s Baby-Friendly® designation possible.
“I am incredibly proud of Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre and our other partners who made the journey a success. It’s a celebration of public health and the care we provide to mothers and babies in Antigua & Barbuda.”
Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Teri-Ann Joseph congratulated the hardworking healthcare workers on achieving such a significant milestone and gave the assurance of the Ministry's continued support towards the program.
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