Methodist West Houston Hospital recently earned Texas Ten Step program and mother-friendly worksite designations from the Texas Department of State Health Services. The Texas Ten Step program, endorsed by the Texas Medical Association and based on the World Health Organization and UNICEF’s ten steps to successful breastfeeding, encourages breastfeeding as the preferred feeding method for newborns and infants. The program aims to assist birth facilities’ support of breastfeeding mothers before, during, and after delivery; encourages them to identify breastfeeding resources for the mother after she is discharged; and assists facilities in improving on national performance measures such as the Centers for Disease Control’s breastfeeding report card. The goal of the Texas Ten Step program is to have 82% of infants exclusively breastfeeding when discharged.
Texas Ten Step facilities are asked to address 85% of the 10 steps to successful breastfeeding, be designated as a Texas mother-friendly worksite, evaluate their breastfeeding policies and maternity care practices, and educate all healthcare staff routinely with evidence-based courses.
“We promote breastfeeding in the community, with our patents, and in our workplace,” says Beverly White, director of the Methodist West Houston Hospital Birthing Center. “We support every breastfeeding mother and our lactation nurses are excellent resources for patients and employees alike.”
Essential elements of a mother-friendly workplace include designated space, time, and support for breastfeeding. At Methodist West Houston, where 77% of the staff is female, the lactation room is centrally located, accessible at all times, and provides a private space for breastfeeding or expressing milk. The hospital’s team approach to care provides flexibility for new mothers to take their breaks when needed.
“We have worked very hard to earn the Texas Ten Step program designation,” says Vicki Brownewell, vice president and chief nursing officer at Methodist West Houston. “And we are proud to join the other select Texas hospitals in promoting breastfeeding to our new mothers.”