New mothers at Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast have access to the highest level of breastfeeding support and education available, thanks to the hospital’s efforts to become recognized as a Baby-Friendly birth facility by Baby-Friendly USA.

“This important Baby-Friendly designation represents a significant investment in our community and the long-term health of babies born at Sacred Heart,” said Roger Hall, president of SHHEC. “We want to ensure that all our children have the best possible chance for a healthy start in life.”

Baby-Friendly practices include “rooming in,” in which the baby’s crib is kept beside the mother’s bed. Rooming in helps mothers learn their babies’ feeding cues and newborn needs. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative also encourages “skin-to-skin” contact, in which newborn babies are placed bare-skinned against their mothers’ chests immediately after delivery, with mothers holding them for the first hour of life. Studies have shown this skin-to-skin practice helps newborns better maintain their temperatures and normalize heart and breathing rates. Both practices encourage bonding between mothers and babies and encourage the newborn’s ability to breastfeed.

“We will have the privilege of bringing more than 1,500 babies into the world this year. By educating pregnant women and implementing the Baby-Friendly guidelines, we’re striving to provide all mothers the information, confidence and skills they need to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies through the first year of life,” said Christa Allen, manager of Women’s Services at SHHEC.

Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast also honored Peggy Duncan, a nurse in the hospital’s Family Birth Place, with The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses. Duncan was nominated for The DAISY Award by Steve and Camille Withall, who delivered their first child at the Family Birth Place in August.

“Peggy truly went above and beyond in her care for us. Her experience, patience and willingness to spend extra time with us made a stressful situation much better,” said Camille Withall. “She delivered extra blankets with a smile and gave us a feeling of being cared for.”

Excellent communication, straightforward advice, compassionate, patient and skillful were just some of the words used to describe Duncan in her nomination.

“We are grateful to have had this amazing nurse participate in our overall experience,” Withall said.

The DAISY Foundation is a not-for-profit organization, established in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, by members of his family. Patrick died at the age of 33 in late 1999 from complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), an auto-immune disease. DAISY is an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune System. The care Patrick and his family received from nurses while he was ill inspired this unique means of thanking nurses for making a profound difference in the lives of their patients and patient families.