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Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week at a Baby Friendly Hospital

Mardrey Swenson
Lebanon NH US
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 41 No. 2, April-May 2005, p. 34.

I am a La Leche League Leader who also works as the lactation consultant at the Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital, Lebanon, New Hampshire, USA. It is one of the 42 hospitals in the United States certified as Baby Friendly. One of my written goals for work last year was to create a display in the hospital's lobby for World Breastfeeding Week (WBW). I decided to combine information about WBW with information about our Baby Friendly status.

Many newer employees weren't here when the hospital was certified in 1997, so they don't really know about it. In fact, I've since asked the hospital's human resources department to ensure that when new employees receive orientation, they learn why it is a matter of pride that Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital has had the designation of Baby Friendly for the last seven years. I've also asked them to explain why this is important for the mothers who give birth at the hospital.

I enjoyed making two presentation displays—one for WBW and one for Baby Friendly. I used the WABA (World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action) poster that highlighted the theme: Exclusive Breastfeeding: The Gold Standard—Safe, Sound and Sustainable. The poster features a gold bow as a representation of this theme.

I purchased shiny, gauze-wired gold ribbon and pin backs to make bows that I could pass out. Doing a few each night, I eventually had 96 (only because that's how many pin backs I'd bought).

After I set up the lobby display with breastfeeding information and plenty of gold bows in a colorful basket, I happily roamed the halls asking employees if they would like to wear a gold bow. With each bow, I included a small piece of paper that listed an advantage of breastfeeding so that anyone who received a bow would also receive a message about breastfeeding.

As I went about the hospital offering gold bows, some women smiled and told me that they had breastfed their own children. Most everyone was polite, but one female did respond with an emphatic, "No, thank you!" A couple of male pharmacists were hesitant when I approached them, but after I explained World Breastfeeding Week and the display I had set up in the lobby, they accepted the bows. A chief executive director at the hospital was at a loss for words for a moment when I gave him a golden bow and explained its significance, but he recovered quickly and told me he'd give it to his daughter. He was going to visit her and her newborn twins in Sacramento, California, USA.

I made my way to the outpatient building, where I received a very warm reception. It didn't hurt that I also brought chocolate candy with me. I've noticed that if a booth has candy, folks tend to pause for a moment and look at information. To attract more attention, I also scheduled a drawing for a human milk collection and storage kit and two boxes of refills. I thought this would be appealing to many working mothers at the hospital. I told people that if they knew pregnant or breastfeeding and working mothers, the drawing prize would be a helpful, thoughtful gift.

My next stop in promoting WBW was at the women's care center. Of course, I brought more chocolate candy and golden bows. Next year, I plan on having additional displays at the women's clinic and in the lobby and the office of obstetricians and midwives.

While I was promoting WBW I needed more gold ribbon to make more bows. As I was purchasing the ribbon, the store clerk asked if I was having a party. I told her about WBW and the display at Alice Peck Day Hospital. She promptly told me that she breastfed her child and would do so again if she had more children in the future. Since she mentioned that she had "only" breastfed for six weeks, I told her to contact La Leche League if she had questions when the time came. One more contact for LLLI!

We hadn't celebrated WBW for a few years at our hospital. So this was a great second start—something to expand on. Baby steps that will lead to greater awareness.

Accredited in Illinois, USA, Mardrey Swenson has been a Leader since 1988 and has three adult children. She is the listed Leader of the LLL of the Upper Valley Group of Lebanon, New Hampshire, USA and has been a certified lactation consultant for 17 years. Mardrey writes, "My first breastfeeding counseling was to chiropractic families when I was living at the chiropractic college in the 70s and 80s. I am a Doctor of Chiropractic since 1976, retired from practice. I've lectured on the protective factors of human milk."

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