Sorry, new mommies: Memorial Healthcare System is saying goodbye to two “perks.” There will be no more goody bags or scheduling your delivery early to work around your sister’s visit or your renovation plans.
But the crackdown is all in the best interests of mommy and baby’s health, administrators say.
As of Jan. 1, lavish gift bags from formula companies are no longer being given out to mothers as they exit the hospital at Memorial Healthcare System’s three birthing centers: Memorial Regional in Hollywood, Memorial West in Pembroke Pines, and at Memorial Miramar.
It’s all part of the push to promote breastfeeding, and the cognitive, immune system and health benefits it provides to infants, said Mary Roberts, nursing director for the Family Birthplace at Memorial Hospital West.
"We took a major step and stopped giving out free formula and free formula gift bags,” Roberts said. “We are one of the first in Broward County. It was a big move, because formula companies use us as an advertising agency free of charge.”
Roberts said the hospital does support mother’s choice, whether she wants to bottle feed or breastfeed.
“If they choose to exclusively bottle feed, we make sure we provide them with proper education, because they can cause a lot of harm with formula being too concentrated or too diluted,” she said.
At discharge, regardless of how they were feeding the baby, the hospital used to send new mommies home with “tons of free samples and fancy gift bags,” Roberts said. “It appeared the hospital was endorsing this, and that was not our function.”
Memorial Healthcare System hospitals also are no longer scheduling elective births, such as inductions and cesarean sections, before 39 weeks. These “patient choice” births, scheduled around everything from a mother-in-law’s visit to a furniture delivery, can endanger the baby if done too early, administrators say.
The new guideline is in an effort to reduce the number of premature babies needing neonatal intensive care and is aligned with American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommendations, said Dr. Laurie Scott, medical director of Maternal Fetal Nursing for Memorial Healthcare System. Medically-necessary births are not affected by the new guidelines, she said.
“There is a push at the national level to decrease the number of elective deliveries prior to 39 weeks because of the risks to the baby for being delivered that early,” Scott said. “Even though we have considered babies born at 37, 38 and 39 weeks to be full term, what we have learned in the last several years is that all term babies are not created equal.”
Babies born at 37 weeks have a 15 percent chance of NICU admission. Those born at 38 weeks have a 10 percent chance, and while that risk does not go away at 39 weeks, it is dramatically reduced, she said.
Memorial began phasing out elective births prior to the 39-week mark in 2009 at its Hollywood facility. The hospital has correspondingly seen a drop in NICU admissions for babies being electively delivered at 37 or 38 weeks, Scott said, which correlates with national statistics.
“We have prevented babies from going to the NICU that would otherwise have gone to the NICU, if we had not had this policy in place,” Scott said.
The elective delivery phase-out was extended to Pembroke Pines and Miramar in late 2013.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun