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Carla's Story

Jun 6, 2019

“It’s time to have a baby. Are you ready to have a baby?”

Carla Bell will never forget those words from her doctor. During her pregnancy, Carla was being closely monitored for preeclampsia. The time had finally arrived for the birth of her daughter, Brookelyn. The pregnancy had truly been a journey, and Carla’s greatest reward from that journey came the first time she held Brookelyn skin-to-skin.

baby-friendly-2“I’m still emotional when I think about that,” Carla said with a smile on her face. “It was just so endearing. When Brookelyn was placed on my chest, her actions felt like she just knew I was her mommy. She even inched up to my heartbeat.”

The encouragement of skin-to-skin contact is essential for a Baby-Friendly hospital, an initiative of the World Health Organization and UNICEF. Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett is the only hospital in Shelby County to achieve Baby-Friendly status. Not only is skin-to-skin a great bonding experience for a mother and her baby, but there are other benefits as well.

“Skin-to-skin may help promote breastfeeding and increase breast milk production,” said Christy Brooks, R.N. “Research has also shown that skin-to-skin contact may result in the baby crying less. It also can help to stabilize the baby’s heart rate, breathing, and blood sugar level.”

A Baby-Friendly hospital is committed to following best care practices when it comes to breastfeeding. At Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett, the staff members have been trained in the care of breastfeeding moms and their babies and are ready to help make the process as simple as possible.

Studies have shown that breastfeeding is the optimal feeding and caring method for the health of the baby and the mother. Some of the benefits of breastfeeding include:

  • Providing the baby with ideal nutrition
  • Antibodies in the breast milk help the baby fight viruses and bacteria
  • A link to higher IQ scores later in childhood according to some studies

“Breastfeeding was something I always wanted to do,” explained Carla. “With Brookelyn being born prematurely, it was in her best interest. The nurses at Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett were always available to help, even after we went home. They gave me great tips that really made things easy.”baby-friendly-1

“We focus on educating every mom about breastfeeding,” said Brooks. “For those that choose breastfeeding, we are here to help them achieve success. However, we also realize there are reasons a mom may not be able to breastfeed or may decide that it is not the best option. We help those families with nutrition education to help ensure their babies are receiving the nutrients they need.”

Carla and Brookelyn recently visited Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett. There were smiles, hugs, and even a couple of tears shared between Carla, Brookelyn, and the nurses.

“Because Brookelyn was premature, we spent a lot of time here,” said Carla. “We really got to know the nurses and staff. They feel like a part of the family.”