Yesterday I made the four hour drive to and from Hannibal MO to participate in the celebration for the their Baby Friendly designation. It was easily worth 8 hours on the road. What a victory to relish! I traveled with Charlene and Mary Grace, two veteran lactation consultants here in the KC area. Charlene and I are both on the Missouri Breastfeeding Committee and Greater KC Breastfeeding Committee. I also serve on the Kansas Breastfeeding Committee. As a crowd gathered in the lobby of the hospital I couldn't help but think, that most of those gathered probably didn't understand the long term consequences of what was happening here. Baby Friendly sounds so warm and fuzzy, that most folks don't realize the long term implications of making such cultural changes in a facility. There was a brief ceremony presenting the plague with the media and all the administrative bigwigs present. Afterwards, us traveling dignitaries were given a tour of the maternity care unit. (It was actually a large, attractive fairly new facility). My favorite part of the day came next. We were treated to a powerpoint presentation from the lactation consultant about the facility's 5 year journey to Baby Friendly. It was a long and tumultuous journey to say the least. Afterwards we attended a reception. This was my second favorite part. I put on my advocate hat, and sat at a table with the hospital administrators and talked with them about how this small designation is going to impact the health of their community for years to come. I wanted them to know what a big deal this was, and not just 'another certificate'. I talked about my thesis topic: the impact of lactation on infant mortality rates in the African American community. They asked lots of questions about breastfeeeding, birth practices, and cultural competency. I actually had a great time. On the car ride home Charlene said it was the best day she's had in a long time- and I would have to agree!
Thanks Hannibal Regional Hospital for showing the SHOW ME state how it's done!