Published on January 09, 2019

Essentia Health-Virginia recognized as first Baby-Friendly hospital on Iron Range

Essentia Health-Virginia, 901 Ninth St. N., is the first Baby-Friendly hospital on the Iron Range: a designation that says it meets the gold standard in breastfeeding and bonding practices between mother and child.

The recognition was developed by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization.

“We are here to provide the highest level of care in all of our services and we recognize the importance of the holistic approach in the family birthing area,” said Sam Stone, who leads care at the Virginia hospital. “Congratulations to the team for this recognition of the high-quality, compassionate care they always provide.”

The team works to create and honor the "golden hour" after birth when babies begin bonding with their parents.

Skin-to-skin contact helps mother and baby physically transition from the birth. The experience helps regulate their heart rates, breathing rates and body temperatures. They look at one another and begin to bond. Babies often want to begin breastfeeding and mothers pick up their cues. The experience helps get them off to a good start, said Jane Teasck, nursing director of the Virginia hospital.

Another important piece, she said, is how the community benefits long-term.

“Breastfeeding helps lower the rate of diabetes and obesity in children,” Teasck said. “It helps keep the patient population healthier.”

The Baby-Friendly designation recognizes hospitals that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies based on the "Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding," and is awarded after a rigorous on-site survey.

There are now more than 550 Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers across the U.S.

Three other Essentia Health hospitals have earned the Baby-Friendly designation: St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd, St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth, and Essentia Health-Fargo.