Southern Utah hospitals get high marks for encouraging breastfeeding

ST. GEORGE — As far as the state of Utah’s health department is concerned, all three of the local hospitals in Southern Utah have “stepped up” to encourage breastfeeding in their facilities. 

Young mother breastfeeding her newborn baby boy at home. Stock image | Photo by tatyana_tomsickova/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

St. George Regional Hospital, Cedar City Hospital and Garfield Memorial Hospital in Panguitch have all achieved a five-star rating as part of the Utah Department of Health and Human Services’ “Stepping Up for Utah Babies” program

The program was launched by the department in 2016 to promote breastfeeding in hospitals in the state as well as to the public at large.

Cedar City Hospital led the way as one of the first two to achieve a five-star rating in 2019 and has been followed by the other two. All three hospitals are run by Intermountain Health, and one of its nursing leaders said intercooperation between the three facilities has led to the five-star achievement.

“The nurse managers at all Intermountain hospitals partner together and share best practices with each other and implement ideas to help increase breastfeeding support for new moms,” Tiffany Hanson, Intermountain’s nurse director for obstetric and neonatal operations and based in St. George, said in a statement. 

To achieve a five-star certification, all three hospitals had to follow all 10 of the following:

  1. Have a written breastfeeding policy.
  2. Train all their staff to support all new moms feeding choices.
  3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits of breastfeeding.
  4. Encourage all new moms to hold their new baby skin-to-skin right after delivery.
  5. Show moms how to and maintain breastfeeding, even if they are separated from their infants.
  6. Give infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically needed. 
  7.  Allow moms and babies to remain together 24 hours a day. 
  8. Encourage breastfeeding on-demand. 
  9. While in the hospital, staff will not give pacifiers to breastfeeding infants.
  10. Give all new families a list of breastfeeding community resources when they leave the hospital.

Intermountain also hosts a $15 breastfeeding course for moms that can be accessed at this link.

Garfield Memorial Hospital in Panguitch, Utah. Aug. 11, 2021 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

“Each facility worked hard to promote and support breastfeeding and their recognition is well deserved,” the health department’s maternal and infant health program coordinator Megan Tippetts said in a statement. “Their work has positively impacted the lives of countless families.”

According to the health department, breast milk is preferable when possible to growing infants and has been associated in studies with decreased risk of health issues for children and for later in their life. 

For moms, the studies have shown less risk of ovarian and breast cancer, the best food for infants and breastfeeding is associated with decreased risk for infant morbidity and mortality. It’s also been shown that breastfeeding moms have lower incidences of breast and ovarian cancer, Type 2 diabetes and postpartum depression.

Last month, a protest was held outside the headquarters of the Washington County School District to bring more awareness to the needs of breastfeeding moms. 

A state law passed in 2018 and co-sponsored by Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson when she was a state senator prohibits discrimination and allows a woman to breastfeed in places of public accommodation. The law makes exceptions for churches and other facilities that are “distinctly private” but still open to the public. 

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2023, all rights reserved.

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