For most new mothers, breast-feeding is a choice. But thanks to a new partnership, the University of Virginia Health System will now have more resources to help moms make the best choice for their families.
UVA is one of only about 90 hospitals in the United States chosen for this new partnership. The "Best Fed Beginnings" program is stepping up to increase rates of breast-feeding, for the healthy development of newborns as well as the health of new mothers.
Rania Moustafa welcomed the newest member of her family into the world on Monday, but she made the choice to breast-feed months ago.
"I don't really consider the formula as an option, rather than just a backup plan, just in case," she said.
Moustafa says it's a highly personal decision.
"Even when I'm home, I always like to breast-feed her just to be closer to her," she said.
Dr. Ann Kellams, newborn nursery medical director, said, "There's evidence now that it makes a difference how infants feed early on."
UVA was chosen out of around 300 applicants for a 22-month learning collaborative called "Best Fed Beginnings."
"So we're trying to reeducate, retrain, get back to the basics," Kellams said.
UVA will increase staffing, training and resources to help new mothers make the best decisions about whether to breast-feed their child.
"They're giving us the tools to make this change," said nurse and lactation consultant Valerie Goodman. "We're just really excited to be stepping forward with lots enthusiasm, and I think we're going to make some changes for a lot of families."
"We shouldn't be thinking about this as a lifestyle choice any more. We should be thinking about this as a health decision," Dr. Kellams said.
It's a decision UVA hopes more mothers will make for their newborns and one that extends beyond health for Moustafa.
"I mean it's all very relieving, even for me not just for the baby," she said. "I mean it's a very natural thing that we all need to feel."
This isn't a new focus area for UVA. The hospital has supported breast-feeding for years, but these doctors and nurses hope increased information and education for staff and families will help sway more mothers.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Five Virginia hospital systems have joined a national effort that aims to get mothers of newborns to breast-feed.
The University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University health systems, along with Inova Alexandria Hospital in Alexandria, Inova Loudoun Hospital in Leesburg and Virginia Baptist Hospital in Lynchburg are among 90 hospitals nationwide that are participating in Best Fed Beginnings, a national program that involves hospital health care employees encouraging breast-feeding in new mothers.
The 22-month initiative is receiving funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other groups.
Breast-feeding has both short- and long-term health benefits for children, including the reduction of their obesity risk and the decrease of the severity of illnesses.
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