Memorial Hospital Partners with UNICEF and the World Health Organization to Give Kids the Healthiest Start Possible

Memorial Hospital of South Bend has officially begun the journey to expand upon their already robust pediatric services and officially become designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF as a “Baby-Friendly” hospital.

A hospital can be designated as such when it has made special efforts to support mothers to start and continue breastfeeding and when it demonstrates that it follows all of the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding” as outlined by UNICEF and WHO.*

Breastfeeding protects against childhood obesity, diabetes, respiratory and ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), yet less than 4 percent of hospitals nationwide provide the full range of support mothers need to be able to breastfeed, according to a recent Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control. The report examines data from the CDC’s national survey of Maternity Care Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care (mPINC).

Memorial has had a long-standing commitment to the health of every mother and child. Women have benefited from the care of International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) at Memorial since 1987. According to Michaeleen Conlee, Senior Director of Women’s and Children’s Services at Memorial, “The nurses, midwives and physicians at Memorial’s Childbirth Center are devoted to best practices. That means when research shows us we can do better, we will do better. Six years ago, we learned it is best to place babies skin-to-skin with their mothers after deliver. We made that our policy. Now we’re ready to develop and implement additional policies that will promote bonding, more confident parenting and breastfeeding.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies exclusively breastfeed for about the first 6 months of life and continue breastfeeding for at least one year. In Indiana, 67 percent of infants start breastfeeding and at 3 months, 30 percent are exclusively breastfeeding. Nationally, 75 percent of mothers start breastfeeding and at 3 months, 35 percent are exclusively breastfeeding.

More than 80 percent of women who deliver at Memorial choose to breastfeed. Implementing policies to help these mothers become more successful in following AAP guidelines will have enormous health and economic impact in our community. A study published last year in the journal Pediatrics estimated that if 90 percent of U.S. families followed guidelines to breastfeed exclusively for six months, the U.S. would annually save $13 billion from reduced medical and other costs.

About the UNICEF/WHO “Baby-Friendly” Hospital Initiative (BFHI)
The BFHI, launched in 1991, is an effort by UNICEF and the World Health Organization to ensure that all maternity care practices, whether free standing or in a hospital, become centers of breastfeeding support. The process is currently controlled by national breastfeeding authorities, using Global Criteria that can be applied to maternity care in every country. Implementation guides for the BFHI have been developed by UNICEF and WHO.

About Memorial Hospital
Memorial Hospital is a community-owned, not-for-profit organization based in South Bend, Indiana. It is governed by volunteer representatives of the community guided by a mission to improve the quality of life for the people of our community. Services include inpatient care in the licensed 526-bed Memorial Hospital, outpatient care, primary physician care, urgent care, home care and educational programs for adults and children.


*The Ten Steps for Success in Breastfeeding

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



Maggie Scroope
(574) 647-3234

Edgar Diaz
(574) 647-3273