Shands Hospital for Children at UF selected for national breastfeeding program

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Shands Hospital for Children at the University of Florida is one of 90 hospitals selected out of 235 applicants to participate in the national Best Fed Beginnings program that aims to improve breastfeeding support for new mothers.

Shands Hospital for Children at UF will work with the other participants and a 22-month learning collaborative to make system-level changes to maternity care practices in pursuit of a “Baby-Friendly” designation.

Shands HealthCare Chief Executive Officer Tim Goldfarb is one of many UF&Shands leaders who support this initiative.

“We are eager to participate in this collaborative that will continue to advance the caliber of care we provide at Shands Hospital for Children at the University of Florida,” Goldfarb said. “We understand and value the importance of a Baby-Friendly designation and support our dedicated staff pursuing this education for the next 22 months.”

Breastfeeding has been shown to be one of the most effective preventive health measures for mothers and newborns. Hospital staff members educate mothers on the importance of breastfeeding, and those with a Baby-Friendly initiative in place adhere to the American Academy of Pediatrics-endorsed “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.”

“Families delivering at Shands can only benefit from our participation in this collaborative,” said Mary Ryngaert, a registered nurse practitioner at the UF Center for Breastfeeding and Newborns. “New parents are profoundly impacted by hospital practices in the first hours of their baby’s life, and our staff wants to provide the care they know to be evidence-based, safe and of the highest quality.”

The program is sponsored by the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in close partnership with Baby-Friendly USA.

Currently, fewer than 6 percent of babies in the U.S. are born in Baby-Friendly hospitals. One of the goals of the Best Fed Beginnings initiative is to increase the number of Baby-Friendly hospitals across the country. Currently only 143 hospitals and birth centers in the U.S. are designated as Baby-Friendly.