Twenty years ago, LincolnHealth became the first hospital in Maine and the fifth in the nation to be designated baby-friendly by the World Health Organization. To celebrate this achievement, the LincolnHealth — Miles Campus maternity staff will host a community ice cream social at Damariscotta River Association’s Darrows Barn in Damariscotta on Sunday, July 30 from 1-3 p.m.
“Baby-friendly hospitals are recognized for excellence in supporting breastfeeding and other research-based practices that promote newborn health. The standards for being baby-friendly benefit all mothers and babies” said LincolnHealth Obstetrics Unit Manager Lynn Plumb.
The effort to become baby-friendly was led by lactation consultants Glenda Beverage and Jan Wood. Wood, now retired as a nurse, recalls that the road to becoming baby-friendly was paved by community women, nurses, and family physicians in the 1970s and 1980s who wanted the hospital to feel welcoming to women interested in home birth while offering the safety net of hospital services.
Twenty years later, the Miles maternity staff continues to provide families with the best support, education, and tools available.
“We teach many of the same techniques to both breastfeeding and bottle feeding mothers. Regardless of whether a family chooses to breastfeed or not, we support their journey as much as possible,” said Plumb. “For example, skin-to-skin time is something we encourage all mothers to do. Skin-to-skin simply means that an undressed infant is placed belly down on the mother’s bare chest so the baby can feel their mom’s skin, hear her heartbeat, and smell her familiar scent.”
Skin-to-skin time helps babies adjust to life outside the womb, remain warmer, establish and maintain successful breastfeeding, and stay happy. Miles maternity encourages skin-to-skin time soon after birth and as frequently as possible. This technique also helps mothers who choose not to breastfeed learn early feeding cues. Fathers are encouraged to share this special experience with their babies as well.
To ensure mothers have as much contact with their babies as possible, LincolnHealth — Miles Campus maternity practices “rooming in,” which entails the mother and baby staying together in the same room. Rooming in has many physical and emotional benefits for both the mother and baby.
“Babies have slept in the same room as their moms for more than 40 years here. We have been rooming in for so long that many people in our community think it is standard practice,” said Plumb. “However, most hospitals still rely on nurseries and only offer rooming in as an option.”
To provide the best breastfeeding support possible, several of the registered nurses at Miles maternity have received advanced lactation training and have become either certified lactation counselors or International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, the highest certification and the only internationally recognized credential in the field of lactation.
The free ice cream social will feature Round Top ice cream. Two of Round Top’s flavors are named after children who were born at LincolnHealth, Ruby and Reese Poland. When Ruby was born, her grandparents, owners of Round Top Ice Cream, created the “Ruby’s Birthday Cake” flavor to celebrate. When her sister, Reese, came along, midwife Bridget Buck suggested a peanut butter cup flavor, which is now called “Sweet Reese.” The girls’ mother, Stephanie, who now runs the famed ice cream parlor, will donate some of the ice cream for the event.
For more information about LincolnHealth — Miles Campus maternity, call 563-4536.