EMPower is a hospital-based quality improvement initiative focusing on maternity care practices leading to a Baby-Friendly designation. Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, EMPower is aimed at increasing breastfeeding rates throughout the United States and promoting and supporting optimal breastfeeding practices toward the ultimate goal of improving the public’s health.
“Choosing how to feed your baby is an important decision that has life-long effect for mom and her baby,” said Sherry Childress, director of Perinatal Services for St. John’s Regional Medical Center. “Our goal of becoming a Baby-Friendly Hospital is to have our new mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies because of the many life-long health benefits.”
As part of this three-year effort, St. John’s Regional Medical Center will receive ongoing support in breastfeeding practices from experienced coaches, as well as training and resource support in lactation education. Physicians and hospital staff will also receive education through a grant awarded to the hospital. The effort supports evidence-based practices for prenatal and maternity settings known as the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, an effort to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that complete the Ten Steps. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, launched in the United States in 1996, designates as “Baby-Friendly” hospitals that meet the criteria for women to initiate and continue with breastfeeding. The EMPower Team is led by Abt Associates, Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute, and the Center for Public Health Quality.