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Healthy Baby Initiatives

Healthy Habits from Day One

When it comes to caring for your newborn, our doctors follow the most advanced procedures to ensure that your baby receives the highest level of care. Below are just a few of our newborn care practices.

Delayed bathing

Delayed newborn bathing has many benefits that directly contribute to the health of your baby. These include:
• Reduced risk of infection: Babies are born covered in a white substance called vernix, which is composed of the skin cells your baby made early in development. Vernix contains proteins that prevent common bacterial infections.

• Stabilized infant blood sugar: In the first few hours after birth, a baby has to adjust to life outside the uterus, including losing the placenta as a source of blood sugar. Bathing causes crying, stress and the release of stress hormones. Stress hormones can cause a baby’s blood sugar to drop, which can make the baby too sleepy to breastfeed and cause the blood sugar to drop even more.

• Improved temperature control: Giving a baby a bath too soon can cause hypothermia. Inside mom, it was about 98.6 degrees, but most babies are born in rooms that are about 70 degrees. By allowing the baby time to adjust, you can mitigate the factors that lead to hypothermia.

• Improved maternal-infant bonding: New babies need to snuggle skin-to-skin with their mom be given a chance to try to breastfeed. Infants who are held skin-to-skin on mom’s chest immediately after birth have better blood sugar and temperature control. They also have an easier time learning to breastfeed.

• No baby lotion required: Vernix is a natural skin moisturizer and skin protectant. Babies need skin protection during the transition from the amniotic fluid environment to that of the air.

• Parents get to enjoy bathing their baby: After mom has had time to recover, parents can more easily participate in baby’s first bath and it becomes a teaching opportunity between nurses and parents.

The practice of delayed bathing is consistent with World Health Organization recommendations, and its benefits are confirmed by medical research.

Skin-to-Skin Contact

Studies show that mothers and babies should be together, skin-to-skin immediately after birth and into the baby’s first few weeks. Skin-to-skin contact after birth has the following positive effects on baby:
• More likely to latch on well
• Can maintain his/her body temperature better than in an incubator
• Maintains normal heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure
• Has higher blood sugar
• Less likely to cry
• More likely to breastfeed exclusively and breastfeed longer
• Will indicate to his mother when he is ready to feed

Safe to Sleep

HALO SleepSacks were first worn years ago by babies in Community Hospital’s newborn nursery and neonatal intensive care unit, when Community Healthcare System pioneered the “Safe to Sleep” initiative in Northwest Indiana. The SleepSack reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by replacing the need for blankets or other items to be in the bassinet or crib. Nurses who model safe sleep practices such as the use of the SleepSacks are part of the new Infant Safety Task Force of Northwest Indiana Patient Safety Coalition.

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding your baby can have a positive impact on both baby’s health and yours. Babies who are breastfed have a reduced risk of diarrhea, respiratory and ear infections, and allergic skin disorders. Mothers who breastfeed have a decreased risk of diabetes, breast cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Nursing staff at the hospitals of Community Healthcare System follow the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding,” evidence-based practices that have been shown to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration:

1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all healthcare staff.
2. Train all healthcare staff in skills necessary to implement the policy.
3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one-half hour after birth.
5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation even if they should be separated from their infants.
6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, unless medically necessary.
7. Practice rooming-in, allowing mothers and babies to remain together 24 hours per day.
8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
9. Give no artificial pacifiers to breastfeeding infants.
10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital.


Smoking Cessation

Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for yourself and the health of your baby before, during and after birth. The addictive substances in cigarettes, nicotine and carbon monoxide, and numerous other poisons you inhale from a cigarette are carried through your bloodstream and go directly to your baby.

Smoking while pregnant lowers the amount of oxygen available to you and your growing baby and increases:
• Your baby's heart rate and the chance for congenital heart defects
• Risks of birth defects
• Chances of miscarriage and stillbirth
• Risk that your baby will be born prematurely and/or at a lower weight
• Your baby's risk of developing respiratory (lung) problems
• Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

We provide low-cost education led by an experienced smoking cessation instructor and respiratory therapist to help ease the transition into a healthier, smoke-free life. You will receive coping advice, counseling, behavior modification techniques and more, to help you kick the habit for good.

Register for a smoking cessation class.