SULPHUR, LA (KPLC) - Three area birthing hospitals have now been named "Gift Designated Facilities" by the Bureau of Family Health and Louisiana Department of Health.
They include West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital in Sulphur, Lake Charles Memorial Hospital for Women, and Lake Area Medical Center.
The Gift is an evidence-based program for Louisiana birthing facilities to increase breastfeeding rates and hospital success by improving the quality of maternal services and patient-centered care.
WCCH launched the initiative three years ago, and since then, maternal child educator, Christa O'Neal, says they have seen breastfeeding rates go from 49 percent to 72 percent.
"Some of the evidence-based initiatives that we're doing in the hospital is skin-to-skin for all babies for at least one hour after delivery or until the first breastfeeding is finished," said O'Neal. "We also promote rooming in for the baby to stay in the room with mom at all times, which helps them learn a baby's feeding cues early."
Those are changes Krista Kachtik embraced with the delivery of her third child, a baby girl named Saylor.
"She is perfect," said Kachtik, "she's turning out to be a little chunky girl."
Kachtik knew she wanted to try her best to breastfeed Saylor, something she had not done with her two boys.
"No one really encouraged breastfeeding at that point," she said. "I just wasn't as determined to do breastfeeding."
But this go round at WCCH, Kachtik was educated more about the benefits to mom and baby to breastfeed and connected with O'Neal, who is also a lactation consultant.
"It does increase baby's immune system," said O'Neal, "it also helps with mom and baby's health outcomes, it's also good for the environment and good for the economy."
Kachtik says when it was time to feed Saylor for the first time, the intimidation of breastfeeding was removed.
"The nurses were there to be able to put her on my chest, they were there to be able to assist with getting her to latch properly," said Kachtik.
That success at the hospital carried over to early success at home and Kachtik says she was proud she was able to breastfeed until she hit a hurdle with supply.
"It doesn't mean that you failed as a mom, it doesn't mean that formula's going to hurt her in any way," said Kachtik, "but, I am thankful and glad that I got at least a week and a half, because I know that was one of the most important parts for her and for myself, too."
When moms are discharged from the hospital, they are given the phone number of a nurse or lactation consultant for 24 hour access to breastfeeding help.
To learn more about The Gift, click here.
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