Capital Region Medical Center (CRMC) and St. Mary's Health Center (SMHC) are striving to become Missouri Show-Me 5 hospitals.
The certification through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services requires hospitals to carry out five practices regarding newborn breastfeeding and newborn care. Once the hospitals meet the five criteria, they can apply for the certification.
The five practices include helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within the first hour of birth; practicing rooming-in, which is allowing infants to stay in the same room as their mothers; not giving infants food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated; not giving pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants; and fostering the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and referring mothers to them on discharge.
Cathy Lewis, a registered nurse and clinical educator for obstetrics at CRMC, said the hospital is embracing the Show-Me 5 initiative because it falls in line with practices CRMC is already doing.
"We have been working for the past five years very diligently to develop maternity care practices that support breastfeeding here at Capital Region," Lewis said. "We developed a breastfeeding task force that was comprised of obstetricians, pediatricians, nurse practitioners and staff nurses."
SMHC has also been working to increase breastfeeding practices.
"We've had a support group at St. Mary's for four years," said Becky Schwaller, a registered nurse, an international board-certified lactation consultant and childbirth education coordinator at SMHC.
Schwaller said she hopes to submit SMHC's Show-Me 5 application to the state's Department of Health and Senior Services in October. Lewis said it's looking like CRMC will submit its application at the beginning of next year.
"It's really hard to say," Lewis said. "Our goal right now is to be actively pursuing it. This designation is important and we want to do the right things for our babies and mothers."
Melinda Ridenhour, director of nutrition services at the Cole County Health Department, said her department secured a grant through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health, allowing the agency to provide funding for breastfeeding training at the two hospitals.
She said the department had the two hospitals identify specific issues they want to work on.
"It's a pretty big undertaking," she said. "Both (hospitals) are at a different point and have different struggles and different strengths."
She said the push to become Show-Me 5 hospitals has also gotten CRMC and SMHC working together more to achieve the goal.
Both hospitals are part of a breastfeeding coalition with the Cole County Health Department and other area medical entities. The goal of the coalition is to improve the community's breastfeeding infrastructure.
"We meet quarterly and discuss how we as breastfeeding advocates can promote breastfeeding in our community," Schwaller said. "We also work together on education programs."
Lewis said breastfeeding is really coming to the forefront as a social norm.
"There's a push from health agencies because of its health benefits," she said.
To learn more about Missouri's Show-Me 5 hospital initiative, visit health.mo.gov/living/families/wic/breastfeeding/showme5.php.