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Fairview Red Wing Medical Center gets lactation designation

Last year, nearly 90 percent of women who delivered their babies in Red Wing breastfed, said Ann Beckman, a certified lactation consultant at Fairview Red Wing Medical Center.

While it seems that breastfeeding is something that would come naturally to both mother and baby, it does have a learning curve, Beckman said.

"The first couple of weeks are the most challenging," Beckman said. "Once both the mother and the baby know what they're doing, its much easier."

In January, Fairview Red Wing Medical Center Birthplace was awarded the International Board-certified Lactation Consultants Care Award. The medical center was one of 192 facilities worldwide, and one of five in Minnesota, to receive recognition.

"(It) recognizes ... what our breast-feeding services are," Beckman said. The award means the medical center will be listed in an online directory of facilities providing specialized lactation services.

To receive the recognition, a facility must employ at least one International Board-certified lactation consultant, have services available for breastfeeding moms at least five days a week and promote breastfeeding support program.

The directory is a collaboration of the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners and the International Lactation Consultant Association. The medical center will be listed in the online directory for two years. After that, the facility must reapply for award.

The directory can be viewed at

Above and beyond

Fairview Red Wing has achieved more than just meeting the minimum requirements for recognition. The medical center employs three lactation consultants - Beckman, Anne Warrington and Linda Dech - and provides support seven days a week.

Training and assistance are available for new moms before they leave the hospital. But once mom and baby are sent home, they still get support from the hospital staff. Twice weekly face-to-face check-ins are available, where babies are weighed and any issues or concerns can be addressed. Telephone support is also available.

"(We) really are available to them the whole time they're breastfeeding," Beckman said.

Recently, the medical center joined forces with the Goodhue County Women, Infants and Children Program to provide breastfeeding mothers with peer counselors - women who have breastfed in the past who will be available to help other mothers and their babies. Currently, the medical center has trained five peer counselors for this program.

"(It's) mother-to-mother peer support," Beckman said.

Model for other hospitals

It's not just international organizations that are taking notice of Fairview Red Wing Medical Center's lactation services. The Fairview system is paying attention too.

"Some of the other Fairviews are looking at how they can duplicate some of the things we're doing here," Beckman said.

Currently, Fairview is working to establish a Center for Breastfeeding Excellence, Beckman said. Because of the comprehensive support it offers, Red Wing's medical center is serving as a model for the project.

"They want to connect existing pieces that each facility has to have consistent lactation services across the whole system," Beckman said.

Breastfeeding is best

According to the surgeon general, breastfeeding can:

• Protect babies from illnesses and infections like ear infections and pneumonia.

• Decrease a baby's chances of developing asthma or becoming obese.

• Decrease the chances of sudden infant death syndrome.

• Decrease the risk of breast and ovarian cancers for mothers.

• Save families $1,200 to $1,500 on infant formula in the first year.

Sarah Gorvin
Sarah Gorvin has been with the Republican Eagle for two years and covers education, business and crime and courts. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010 with a  journalism degree.