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“Baby Friendly” Hospitals Making Nurseries, Pacifiers Obsolete

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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – There is a major shift happening inside North Texas hospitals. Some medical facilities are closing their nurseries and pacifiers are disappearing from the maternity wards.

“They do interfere in the beginning with breastfeeding sometimes so that’s why we don’t have them in the hospital and have them for the first three to four weeks,” explained Dr. Theresa Patton, with Methodist Dallas Medical Center. “Pacifiers are gone from general use. They are used for painful procedures, so if an infant has a circumcision or something like that we use pacifiers periodically for that reason.”

Methodist is pushing the new approach to infant care and it’s one that state health experts say is more “baby friendly.” “What I hope this push does is normalize breastfeeding again,” Dr. Patton stressed.

Methodist requires infants to remain in the room with mom. While skin-to-skin bonding time is heavily encouraged, baby formula is discouraged.

New mom Angela MaCauley said, “I plan on breastfeeding for six months.” Her son Silas was born at Methodist just a few weeks ago and she welcomes the new approach. “This helps me to be confident in myself and have confidence before I go home,” she said.

Women breastfeed their babies. (credit:  Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

Women breastfeed their babies. (credit: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

Mother Shannon Dowling, who is from Fort Worth, welcomes the change as well. “Pacifiers create confusion.  Formula creates confusion.  So does that bottle,” Dowling said to a crowd at Methodist, as she talked about her 15-month-old son, Jackson “I decided formula was not in the picture for me at all. I also decided I didn’t want my kid to have a pacifier.”

Methodist Medical Center has even started having conferences to educate employees on the importance of the changes.

Baylor All Saints Medical Center in Fort Worth is another hospital working to become more “baby friendly.” The process there has been several years in the making.

“Truly what we are trying to do is overcome 75 years of formula marketing and bring moms in a place where they understand that it’s an important choice to make right at the beginning,” All Saints Neonatologist Dr. Erin Hamilton Spence explained. “It’s all about making and educated choice.”

Dr. Spence says becoming “baby friendly,” has changed the hospitals practice. “We try to have the mom and baby together as much as possible for a minimum of 24 hours.”

As far as the pacifiers, Spence said, “We don’t encourage them on a routine basis, but we do make it an option.”

But not all moms welcome the changes. Paula Boatwright explained that she had trouble breastfeeding her two boys and she says the new push makes her a little uncomfortable. “I couldn’t… I just didn’t. My body did not produce it [breast milk].  I just think there needs to be the other option,” she said. “I think it should be a mother’s choice, it shouldn’t be the hospital because they can’t dictate how you raise your child.”

The “baby friendly” designation also includes extensive employee training and providing support after the new moms have left the hospital.

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