St. Joe’s Ann Arbor Named a “Baby Friendly” Hospital

St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, a member of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, has been designated a Baby-Friendly hospital by Baby-Friendly USA.  The designation recognizes St. Joe’s for having developed the highest breastfeeding support standards for mothers and newborns in the maternity setting.

“St. Joe’s has distinguished itself as a destination for expecting mothers seeking a safe and supportive environment for themselves and their baby,” said Bill Manns, president of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and Livingston hospitals.  “We offer the most advanced evidence-based, maternity care standards in the world.  This has resulted in safer deliveries and an ideal environment in which a newborn can develop and thrive.”

Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. is the U.S. authority for the implementation of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund.  The initiative is based on The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, which consists of evidence-based policies and practices that birthing facilities should implement to encourage the optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies.  This includes a written breastfeeding policy, education and instruction, skin-to-skin bonding and rooming-in.

Breastfeeding is proven to be beneficial for mothers and provides everything a baby needs to grow and be healthy. It offers vitamins and antibodies not found in formula, is better overall for a baby’s stomach, and has been shown to lead to better test scores later in life.  Breast milk lowers rates of skin diseases, allergies, sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and serious infections of the lung, ear, throat, kidneys, and bowels.  Breastfeeding also lowers serious lifetime diseases such as asthma, diabetes, childhood cancers, bowel diseases, heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity.

“We know that immediate skin-to-skin bonding and access to breast milk provides many health benefits to newborns,” says Jennifer Schaible, MSN, RN, director of Women and Children’s Services at St. Joe’s.  “Breast feeding and skin to skin bonding help normalize a newborn’s body temperature, blood sugar, heart rate, breathing and blood pressure.  Remaining with their baby following delivery also provides mothers the opportunity to increase their confidence and learn their baby’s cues for when they are sleepy, stressed or hungry.”

The St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor Family Birth Center delivers nearly 4,000 babies annually.  The center offers 12 modern Labor/Delivery/Recovery rooms, each with its own Jacuzzi.  After birth, mothers move to one of the center’s private mother-baby rooms.  During their stay at St. Joe’s mothers have access to specially trained obstetricians, midwives, nursing staff and, if needed, a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with experience and resources to support high-risk pregnancies.  The center is perinatal certified and offers mothers the benefits of nitrous oxide and donor milk from a donor milk bank in the event a mother needs to supplement her own breast milk.

There are more than 20,000 designated Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers worldwide.  Currently there are 545 Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers in the United States; including St. Joseph Mercy Oakland in Pontiac, Michigan, also part of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System.

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