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Health Watch: Sacred Heart offically becomes "Baby Friendly"

Sacred Heart Hospital is officially a "Baby Friendly" birth facility. Only eight other hospitals in Florida have the prestigious designation.

Donna Sabo is a registered nurse and a lactation consultant. She said, "I feel that this is my passion, this is my calling, and so I also absolutely adore working with babies and mamas."

Sabo's been doing so for 41 years.

No one was happier when three years ago, Sacred Heart staff began to transition to an officially designated "Baby Friendly" hospital.

First order of business; more training and emphasis on nursing. The days of free formula samples for every new mom are over. "Breast milk and formula absolutely do not equal. The benefits and components of breast milk are what babies are meant to have," Sabo said.

Skin to skin contact between mom and newborn is immediate.

Cecilia Chappotin-Barnes and her husband Sterling took a breast feeding class before delivery, Sabo makes sure they are ready after. Chappotin-Barnes said, "This morning we went to a class, a discharge class and olive was really fussy. And we've been having a little bit of problems and Donna helped and she immediately was perfect."

Olive was delivered by an unplanned c-section. Nothing went as mom had envisioned, except for their first skin to skin contact. She said, "We did get to do that thankfully. It was more like cheek to cheek at first, but yeah, we did get to have some skin to skin."

That's been crucial for new mom Joanna Mason.

She delivered twin girls at just 28 weeks gestation. They have been in the NICU for five weeks now. Every day, she gets a little precious "Kangaroo Care" time. She said, "Because I can't hold them anytime I want, it's just an amazing feeling to have that skin to skin."

Mason's been able to pump plenty of breast milk for her girls, so far, they haven't had a drop of formula. "The doctors, the nurses, the techs, they're all doing their best that my girls get to come home and it makes me feel like I'm doing my part in it. So, I feel needed," Mason said.

The final component of "Baby Friendly" is "rooming in".

Nurse Manager Niki Day says keeping baby with mom, instead of the nursery helps new parents learn hunger cues and babys' rhythms. Day said, "We don't want to take the baby out for tests, take baby out for doctors' visits, so the physicians are going in the rooms to see the babies. Getting nurses to go in and do lab work."

Day has headed up the three year Baby Friendly Certification process. She says the process was at times challenging, but evidence based results at other facilities inspired and drove her team. "Improved SIDS rates, improved rates of ear infections, respiratory infections, for the moms, the moms have reduced risk for post partum depression," she said.