The first meeting of the Gibson Area Hospital (GAH) Breastfeeding Support Group was a great success thanks to the moms and babies who braved the frigid weather on the first Friday of the year! Moms from Fairbury, Forrest, Gibson City, and Heyworth gathered to talk and learn together with Certified Lactation Counselor Kristina Cramer, RN, in the East Board Room at GAH. The shared personal experiences of the participants and familiar knowledge brought by Cramer, the group’s facilitator, created a supportive and relaxed environment for the women and their babies. Promoting an atmosphere of non-judgment is also important, because when it comes to breastfeeding, “Everyone has their own way of being successful” said Cramer, “and the more confident a mother is in her abilities, the more likely she will continue breastfeeding her baby.”
The support group, a social community of practice for education and counseling on breastfeeding, is one of many steps currently being taken at GAH in their breastfeeding quality improvement project in order to be compliant with the Hospital Infant Feeding Act and the 2013 Evidence Based Breastfeeding Hospital Initiative (EBBHI). According to the LaMar Hasbrouck, MD, MPH, and Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, the goal of EBBHI is “to encourage hospital environmental changes in maternity care practices to support the mother’s choice of breast milk feeding.” Moreover, the Hospital Infant Feeding Act, which became effective January 1, 2013, requires each birthing hospital to “adopt and routinely communicate an infant feeding policy that promotes breastfeeding.”
In addition to the support group, the Gibson Area Hospital Obstetrics Department has made other commitments that meet the EBBHI desire for hospitals, as stated by Hasbrouck, to "enable mothers to breastfeed successfully by enhancing breastfeeding environments and by establishing systems, protocols and practices that support the initiation, continuation and maintenance of breastfeeding."ã For GAH, these include encouraging immediate skin-to-skin contact for mother and baby post-delivery, rooming-in for baby, and eliminating the distribution of formula company-sponsored gift bags to new moms.
Mothers interested in joining next month’s meeting on Friday, February 7th may contact Kristina Cramer at 217.784.1136. The group meets the first Friday of each month from noon until 1 p.m. in the East Board Room at Gibson Area Hospital, 1120 N. Melvin Street, Gibson City. Moms are encouraged to bring their own lunch and beverages.